Local paramedics who volunteered to help fight COVID-19 in Rio Grande Valley didn't expect to be hit by Hurricane Hanna

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Atascocita Fire Department paramedics volunteered to help fight COVID-19 in South Texas but were blindsided when they were hit by a hurricane while they were there.

ATASCOCITA, Texas — Paramedics with the Atascosita Fire Department returned home after volunteering for duty in the Rio Grande Valley, a coronavirus hot spot.

But while they knew they’d be dealing with risks, they were not counting on Hurricane Hanna to hit while they were there.

“The amount of flooding had devastated these areas with just one or two days of rain,” Atascosita Fire Department paramedic Sal Malinowski said.

They helped save lives from the floodwaters.

“Rescuing people from their homes, trying to get them out, as well as their animals, we did a couple of pet rescues,” he said.

Malinowski said a hurricane is one thing, but seeing how COVID-19 has decimated the area was another.

“The amount of people that actually tested positive for corona down there, it was kind of eye-opening and shocking, because I thought it was bad here in Houston, but once I went down there, it was like every other person had corona,” he said.

Two other paramedics from the Atascosita FD also volunteered for South Texas duty: Adelynn LeRoche and Jessica Stevens. They did their best to help out Rio Grande Valley paramedics who were rarely getting a day off.

“Which is overwhelming, because over here at home on a normal shift, sometimes you get four or five days off. You can reboot, relax and then start your shift all over again. Over there, it’s just work, work, work, work work,” Malinowski said.

Now, they’re home getting some rest until their next shift on the frontlines against the pandemic.