Airboat Pilot Recalls Katrina

8-29-06 - A Denison airboat captain was loading up to head to the Gulf Coast this time last year. On the 1 year anniversary of Katrina, David Beeson says it was a trip he'll never forget. First News was there with him as he and others helped rescue hundreds of New Orleans residents.

No one really knows just how many volunteers risked their lives last year, how many regular people dropped everything and traveled hundreds of miles working with law enforcement and the military in a disaster zone.

A fishing guide from Denison never imagined he would save one life, much less hundreds. In the five days he was in New Orleans with his airboat, he and four other men from Bryan County, Ft. Worth and New Orleans estimate they picked up 1400 people, using their own boats to cruise over debris and reach the stranded.

Some things have stuck with him, like the day a man refused to leave his dog and chose to stay behind. David rescued the man's father and tried to follow up, but he never found out what happened.

The local rescuers are part of the airboat association. They invested their own money in the trip. But some local businesses have helped with their own donations.

As for FEMA funds, the group worked under an independent contractor and David says he has not been reimbursed.