LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The death toll in the wake of Hurricane Matthew in the United States stands at 36, with 20 of those deaths in North Carolina.
Kentucky-based firefighters who provided manpower in the storm relief have returned to the Bluegrass State.
Few people can say they've saved a life, but Lexington Fire Captain Ryan Hogsten can now say that, many times over.
Captain Hogsten, along with two other members of the Lexington Fire Department, were part of the "Ohio Task Force" team. They headed south last week to help with Hurricane Matthew relief. The firefighters were originally sent to Florida, but quickly re-routed to North Carolina.
Despite his extensive training, and years of experience with rescue work in Fayette County, Captain Hogsten was still shocked by the conditions when he arrived in Fayetteville.
"A first for me was while driving a boat I actually ran over a car. That's how deep the water is, we actually hit a car with our boat because you couldn't see it. Luckily it didn't do any damage to our boat. It's something that I've never seen before. We literally were opeining up doors and windows and the water was to the ceiling. It had a sobering effect," Captain Hogsten said.
Captain Hogsten and his fellow crew members worked in 12-hour shifts, with few breaks and little to no rest between shifts.
However, despite the difficult conditions, he calls it an emotional and gratifying experience.