One week ago, Richard Littlejohn and Robby Gill were ferrying people to safety in Port Arthur, Texas, in Littlejohn’s boat. A journey that started in Ormond Beach with Littlejohn needing service on his boat trailer.
“Ritchie showed up and asked me, “Are you really busy?,” Robby Gill, owner of Ormond Trailer and Hitch said. “He wanted to have his trailer serviced because he wanted to go to Texas and help.”
Like most of America, both men had been watching private citizens rescue those trapped in their homes outside of Houston.
“I was watching people rescuing people from the flood waters on TV,” Littlejohn, who owns Truscot Construction, said. “I had a truck and a boat outside that weren’t doing anyone any good there, so I decided to go.”
Gill had also been watching the TV and called a friend and asked him if he wanted to go. The friend couldn’t, and
“Don’t take a chance, just get out now,” RICHARD LITTLEJOHN, Local Rescuer
Gill thought the idea had died -- until Littlejohn came into his shop.
In a few short days the pair rescued many people and pets, and came home with stories for a lifetime.
“We tried to convince people to go, we plead with them,” Littlejohn said. “There was one family where the wife and children got into the boat and the father was going to stay to protect his home. Robby went in and talked to him, and told him he needed to take care of his family. That seemed to snap him out of it, and he came.”
Coming upon one woman, up to her waist in water, the two tried and tried but couldn’t convince her to leave her house.
“I said to her “water,?” Littlejohn said, intending to give her some bottled water. “And she said, “sure just a minute.” That’s southern hospitality she was going back in to get us some water.”
Some of the dogs they rescued were with their families, others had been left behind.
“Something told us to check a house,” Gill said. “We didn’t find people, but we found a dog left in a crate on the front porch.”
The pair already had two dogs in their boat, but they did find another rescue team to take the abandoned dog.
The two said there were times they had to get out of the boat, and into the water, heavy with oil and gas, to “walk” the boat through the shallower areas.
The men were impressed with how everyone came together to help.
“People were coming together and helping each other,” Littlejohn said.
“It was like that show, “The Walking Dead,” Gill said. “There were abandoned cars with the doors and trunks just left open. It was a creepy, eerie feeling. A real sense that you were on your own.”
The men said they came away with an awareness of how to handle rescue situations better, and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
The advice as everyone watches Hurricane Irma is, “Don’t take a chance, just get out now,” Littlejohn said. “Get out now.”