PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — As Hurricane Idalia hit Florida, floodwaters began rising in Pasco County and some residents needed to get out of their homes, so they called for help.
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco was among the first responders who rushed to their aid.
“We were up there, we were on [U.S. Highway] 19, seeing what was going on and some trucks were going out there and so I said, let me go out there to see what the deputies are seeing and the firefighters are seeing because then that relays back to what resources we need,” Nocco recalled.
The sheriff says that once he was there, he responded like any deputy would.
“So, the further up I can get the better view I can get of what is going on, but then while you are out there, you jump back in the mode of, we are all deputies and so get in the water and helping people out,” said Nocco.
He said he doubts those he helped knew he was the sheriff.
“People didn’t know. They just wanted to get out of their and then it turned into one thing after another, but I don’t think people knew who I was. I don’t think they cared who I was. They just wanted to get on that truck and get out of there,” said Nocco.
However, the experience gave him valuable insight. He says many people simply were not prepared to leave their homes.
“Because as we were going in there we were telling people you’ve got to get yourself and let’s go, and they were trying to pick up this, or getting a tablet, or getting their wires or getting their medicine and they are taking a long time,” said Nocco.
It showed him the importance of packing a “go kit,” so that you can quickly leave if it becomes too dangerous to stay.
“So, one of the messages is, we’re not going to force you out of your house, but if you are going to be at your house, have a go kit ready to go, so that if we do have to come rescue you, you have all of your essentials in it,” said Nocco.
The sheriff said some people didn’t want to leave because of their pets, but then wasted valuable time trying to get their pets when the situation was dangerous.
“If your dogs or cats are in a crate, find them before we get there because there was one woman and her husband, we were looking for their cat, which I understand but that was vital minutes we could have been rescuing other people,” said Nocco.