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Where I come from, the game wardens are responsible for all state police duties that happen “off road.” In Texas right now, that includes rescue efforts when the road is fully submerged.

Here’s the scoop. During the first week/weekend in May, Texas and Oklahoma were rocked by tornados and heavy storms. Some weather stations recorded 23 inches of rainfall. Disaster status was declared in 91 counties.

Houston was hit by some of the worst flooding. Even after the rainfall subsided, authorities were forced to release overflow from nearby dams, so in some places water levels continued to rise. Hundreds of residents, even of houses built on stilts, ended up trapped by the water.

In some cases, such as a 12-hour-old newborn in need of a hospital with an intensive care unit, authorities used a helicopter to complete a rescue. But with hundreds of Houstonians stranded, authorities needed another way. Enter the Game Wardens and their airboats.

Texas authorities pilot an airboat through the flooded streets of Houston, Texas
Airboat used in Houston rescues | Scott Olson via Getty Images

Why airboats? Regular boats use a propeller submerged in the water to move. But this requires deep, clear water. The floodwater covering Houston neighborhoods was often about waist deep. So shallow enough to trap a boat. In addition, debris could foul up a propellor. Downed power lines could be a deadly obstacle for a prop boat.

Airboats are propelled by huge fans at the back of the craft. They can easily navigate shallow water with a ton of obstacles, such as swamps. So the Texas Game Wardens trucked their airboats to Houston and began going house-to-house. I’ll bet anyone stranded by floodwaters was happy to hear those fans.

There is no number for airboat-specific rescues. But authorities say over 600 Texans have been rescued from their homes or cars thus far.

This was far from the Game Wardens’ first rodeo. Houston flooded so badly in 2017, that government personnel rescued 60,000 trapped residents.

Next, read about the Louisville firefighter who jumped off a bridge to save a trapped trucker, or watch drone footage of an airboat rescuing Houston residents in 2017: