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Arizona service members recall Hurricane Harvey and the lives they helped save

Posted at 8:53 PM, Nov 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-08 07:54:03-05

"It was mind blowing to see. It gave me chills," said Jillian Dunbar. Dunbar is a senior at Klein Oak High School in Spring, TX, which is about half an hour north of Houston. 

Jillian was there when Hurricane Harvey struck in August. 

It's supposed to serve as just a school, but Klein Oak turned into an evacuation zone and relief site for people hoisted from their homes in water rescues. 

"It was amazing," explains Agent Michael Kirchner. Agent Kirchner works with U.S. Customs & Border Protection's Air and Marine Operations unit based in Tucson. Originally, he's from Queen Creek. 

Agent Kirchner's team worked tirelessly around the clock, saving 175 people while they were in Texas.  You can't deny those efforts are impressive, but Agent Kirchner said he was also impressed with what was happening on the ground. 

"This place had people coming to the aircraft, including kids, that would hand out warm towels, warm blankets, some water, and hugs to these survivors." 

"It was really powerful and incredible," says Thomas Hensley, Principal of Klein Oak. 

Hensley had only been on the job a few months, but within a few hours he was helping his entire school mobilize faculty, parents, and students. 

"Seven or eight of us would just run up to the helicopter and we would dry them off," said Jillian. 

"It made our job easier, it made it go faster," said Agent Kirchner. And because of that, he said his team was able to move quicker, and save more lives. 

"At that time your race, your religion, your political beliefs, none of that mattered!" said head football coach Jason Glenn.