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News | Jan. 10, 2021

Deputies rescue family from flood water with equipment from DLA Disposition Services

By Jeff Landenberger

Law enforcement agencies use Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services to acquire excess military equipment they want on hand but also hope they may never need to use.

One customer that acquired a Humvee from DLA is Florida’s Pinellas County Sheriff's department, located in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area on the Gulf Coast of the Sunshine State.

A Humvee drives through water up to it's headlights.
Pinellas County Sheriff department’s Humvee is put through its paces during a training session. Deputies used it When Tropical Storm Eta made landfall to navigate flood waters and rescue people.
A Humvee drives through water up to it's headlights.
Pinellas County Sheriff's department Humvee
Pinellas County Sheriff department’s Humvee is put through its paces during a training session. Deputies used it When Tropical Storm Eta made landfall to navigate flood waters and rescue people.
Photo By: Pinellas County Sheriff's department
VIRIN: 140922-O-M9876-987
Pinellas County has endured its share of tropical storms and hurricanes.

When Tropical Storm Eta made landfall there it brought high sustained winds, high tides and flooding throughout the county, especially in beach communities.

The sheriff’s office deployed high water rescue teams throughout the county, deploying boats and high water vehicles to rescue people from homes and roadways.

Sgt. Jessica Mackesy, a department spokesperson, said the local fire dDepartment was unable to get to some stranded people that night and without the high water rescue vehicles like the Humvee, police officers would have had to wait for waters to recede as well.

The former military utility truck was operated that night by Deputies Alex Foster and Jason Fineran.

“We had to go evacuate a family out of their residence. They couldn’t exit through the front door, they had come through the window,” said Fineran.

“When I touched ground the water was up to my hips,” Fineran said. “There was no possibility that our standard-issue Tahoe would have made it through that water.”

Fineran said rescue teams pulled 33 people out of Eta’s storm surge that night. Looking back, he thinks he and Foster were responsible for moving 12 to 15 people to safety, along with some birds, cats and dogs.

“It’s a win-win for taxpayers and for law enforcement,” Mackesy said. “We think it is very important to have the program available. The savings are especially important for small agencies.”