Local Coast Guard member volunteering time dispatching Harvey rescue crews

Posted at 11:15 PM, Sep 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-03 00:26:08-04

As Texas reels from historic flooding, many in southeastern Wisconsin are donating money, food and clothing to the relief effort.

Others are donating their time. An active Coast Guard member at the Milwaukee Coast Guard office is helping save stranded families from the comfort of his own home.

Brad Blanton is used to guiding rescue crews to distress calls in the Coast Guard Command Center. After seeing the tragic images from the devastating floods in southeastern Texas, he said he was looking for a way to help.

Earlier this week, he saw a Facebook post from a group called the ‘Cajun Navy’, a group of rescue volunteers from Louisiana. They were searching for volunteer dispatchers to help Harvey flood victims who are unable to get through on 911 calls.

"During these huge disasters there's only so much these systems can take," said Blanton.

Blanton immediately signed up. Since Tuesday, he's logged more than 40 hours from his dining room.

"I've probably been involved in a couple hundred calls," said Blanton.

All he has to use is his computer, phone and a notebook.

"A lot of times it was people, elderly who were up to their knees in waters inside their homes," he said.

People in need give dispatchers like Blanton their address and contact information.

"You could hear the panic in their voice," said Blanton.

Blanton then finds the closest ‘Cajun Navy’ rescue boat to render aid.

"It feels great to know that I'm able to help people that are probably going through the worst time of their life and I'm able to do that from my kitchen in Wind Lake, Wisconsin," he said.

Blanton said he will continue to volunteer as a dispatcher until his help is no longer needed.