Local rescue squad aids Harvey victims miles away

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Local rescue squad aids Harvey victims miles away. Nora Muchanic reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on August 31, 2017. (WPVI)

A desperate plea for help mistakenly got emailed to a rescue squad in Kingwood, New Jersey, instead of to rescuers 1600 miles away in Kingwood, Texas.

It was almost written off as spam.

Carol Compton of Alexandria, New Jersey said, "I started reading it, and I'm thinking, 'Is somebody playing a prank on me?' And then I got down toward the bottom, and it said Kingwood, Texas. And I thought, 'Uh oh....'"

Compton is the retired chief of the Kingwood Rescue Squad in Hunterdon County. She still gets email for the organization, and when she saw one Tuesday morning that read "Please, rescue needed, two people in attic, water rising," she immediately notified dispatchers at the county 911 center.

Knowing it could be a life-or-death situation, they went to work.

Ed Hahola of the Hunterdon Co. 911 center said, "A bunch of us all worked together using the Internet and other resources to find what police agency covered Kingwood, Texas. It took us awhile because, you know, Texas is a big area."

Hahola's co-worker Tammy Hoffman said, "We tried... between 15 and 16 different phone numbers that we had access to, and they were all out of service or disconnected."

Eventually they made contact with officials in Harris County, and the folks in Kingwood, Texas were put on the list for pick-up. They got a message from the victims later on that they had been rescued.

"It was a great feeling. I mean, we can't be in Texas, and it's great to know that 1300 miles away we could make an impact on the people there," Hahola said.

It's believed the flood victims in Texas had no cell service and googled Kingwood Rescue. The New Jersey squad's website is what pops up. And it's still got Carol Compton's name on it, even though she's no longer active.

"It made me real happy when I found out they were rescued," she said. "And it just goes to show what we can all do if we try to help one another."

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