The officer -- whose name I failed to get -- immediately dispatched a boat and allowed me to get in to guide the team to Ronan's location. A young mother nearby begged me to be allowed to come on, even if she was just to be left behind. She had very young children left in the company of relatives in her house. I let her on.
We first went to the woman's house where we eventually had to take in four children -- one as young as eight months old -- who had not had food or water in nearly 24 hours. My daughter had packed water and clothes for her relatives; we apportioned some of them to the strangers in the boat. It was heartbreaking to bypass others who wanted to be taken in, but I worried that there would be no room in the boat for an invalid man. The Navy officers and I had to reassure the other victims that they would come back for them.
The streets were littered with debris like wood with nails, barbed wire, furniture, appliances, and dead animals. Janitor fish and snakes slithered past us. At some points the waters were shallow and I had to get off the boat to help the officers pull it. I used an oar to push detritus away from the officers who sometimes had to get in the water to steer the boat. We got to Ronan in about half an hour after an eventful ride. We loaded him and other relatives. But not everyone fit. The others opted to stay behind.
On the way back to the gate, others were also accommodated. Babies were priority, as many were already showing signs of dehydration and exposure. We could not ignore them. I helped as much as I could, but there were just too many victims. In the end, we had to promise that the boat would return.
As we approached the gate, we encountered the dreaded current. I joined the officers getting out of the boat, to help pull it through waist deep water. We were very near the gate, and I wanted to get Ronan home. Fortunately the waters were only waist deep there... Still, the current was frighteningly strong. Through the efforts of the gallant Navy officers, we eventually got to high ground,
I also have a new found respect for the Navy.