Before Monday morning, Braden and Kimberlie Dando had never heard of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Today, they say they owe their lives to the FWC officers who have been deployed to the Houston area to help rescue flood victims.

“If they didn’t show up I don’t what we would have done because we did not have a way to get out. I just want to thank them for what they did,” Braden, 25, said during a telephone interview from his mother-in-law’s house in Highlands, Texas.

The Dandos two boys–Paxton, 3, who is autistic, and Nixon, 15 months old–were also inside the apartment. Their parents concern grew as the flood waters began to cover Nixon’s crib.

“We had to swim with our kids,” Kimberlie recalled. “We literally had to drag our 3-year-old, while he was screaming, out of the house.”

“I’m thinking in my head, I can’t make it. My kids lives depend on me and I can’t move my legs,” said Kimberlie.

Kimberlie and Braden saw the FWC boats coming towards them.

When she thought she could not go any farther she heard a voice say “give me the baby.”

She looked up and saw an FWC officer reaching down to her.

“You go from absolutely terrified not knowing if your child is going to be swept away by floodwaters, to feeling just instantly safe like everything is going to be finally okay.”

“Seeing those officers is the only thing that kept me going,” Kimberlie said.

Kimberlie and Braden say they will forever be indebted to the FWC officers who the Dandos credit with saving their lives. While they don’t know their names, they will never forget their faces.

The officers are among 145 FWC staff members who were deployed to Texas earlier week by Gov. Rick Scott to help rescue flood victims.

“I would put my life on the line to save those men,” Kimberlie said. ”The only thing I know how to say is my kids are alive because of you. Thank you.”


The Capitolist

John Lucas

August 30, 2017

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