BEAVERCREEK, Ohio -- Indianapolis firefighter Tom Neil flew out to both Texas and Florida to help hurricane victims recover from the devastating aftermath of Harvey and Irma, but he wasn't taking time Wednesday night to rest.
Instead, he was packing bags to meet Air Force specifications for another rescue trip -- this time to Puerto Rico, where Hurricane Maria struck early Wednesday morning. Although no deaths had been confirmed by Thursday night, the storm plunged the entire island into darkness, brought devastating floods and caused major structural damage.
A spokesperson for the governor described the scene as "total devastation" -- the latest chapter in Puerto Rico's recent saga of hardship.
"We're going to be light and fast, so we're primarily going to be responsible for wide area search," Neil said of his team's mission on the island. "Perhaps even going door to door, checking on maybe those who have sheltered in place and didn't evacuate."
His battalion will be accompanied by a pair of Indiana K-9s. Eddie and Virgil of South Bend, Indiana, both have the skillset to sniff out living hurricane victims as well as the bodies of those who did not survive.
"I love the dogs and I love the training part of it, so it is my way to contribute back tot he community," Gary Hay, the pair's owner, said.
Neil and his fellow firefighters planned to fly out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Thursday.