By Cleve Bryan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–Two Coast Guard air crews took off from New Jersey on Wednesday to lend a helping hand with Harvey relief efforts.

“It’s our turn to go in and try to help out, relieve some of the crews that have been working,” said Lt. Joshua Mitcheltree, a pilot with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Since Sunday, the Coast Guard has saved more than 4,000 people from Hurricane Harvey flood waters caused by a staggering 4 feet of rain.

The rescue work for this team will be difficult, tiring and dangerous.

Lt. Mitcheltree was a rescue swimmer deployed for eight days in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He says the disasters have many similarities.

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“I remember distinctly in Katrina it was people running out of water, running out of food and didn’t realize it was going to take as long for the waters to recede,” he says.

It will take two days for this crew to arrive in Texas. On Thursday another crew from Atlantic City will go as well, sending a total of eight men and women from our area.

Once the crew members from Atlantic City land in Texas they won’t necessarily be assigned to work together. But because of standard training on these helicopters, they’ll work seamlessly with other teams from throughout the country.

Mitcheltree, who will remain here in Atlantic City, says coordination for Harvey relief is night and day improved since Katrina. He has no doubt our crewmen will rise to the challenge.

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“It’s always been the same for me and most everybody I talk to as soon as you get there on scene and pull into a hover and open the door it’s go time, and you start doing what you’ve been practicing,” said Mitcheltree.

 

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