CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – A local group of veterans are using their skillset to help people in Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

“11:00 last night, we went full active again,” Curtis Drafton told FOX 46 from a gas station.

Drafton, a Charlotte resident, is the founder and chaplain of the U.S. Veterans Hall of Fame. He and his crew drove to Louisiana before Hurricane Ida, rode out the storm, and immediately jumped in to help in the hours after it passed.

“Nighttime rescue is a little bit scarier. A lot of people are already on edge,” he said. “They don’t want to be there; you don’t want to be there and there’s a congenial sense of gratitude all across the map.”

For nine years, Drafton says he’s taken his own paycheck and stretched it as far as it can go.

So far, the crew has helped about 30 people to safety.

“I got the full-fledged six-foot waders, full-body waders, I got swimsuits, we’ve got buoys, so just in case we need to tie people off, we got ropes, so these kinds of things are mandatory, necessary so when we go in there, there’s no hesitation,” he said.

The scary part, he says, is not knowing what’s in the water.

“You don’t know if the next step down is going to be a five-foot drop,” Drafton said.

Tuesday, he and his crew drove 75 miles to fill up on gas in Mississippi and drove back to the New Orleans area to share the wealth.

“A lot of people are retired, they’re on oxygen, they’re on ventilators,” he listed. “We want to make sure they got gas for generators, so we filled up all seven tanks.”

His skill set has been crucial, but his empathy perhaps means the most to those unsure of what’s next.

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