Meet A Guy From Texas Who Saved Dogs During Hurricane Florence Before It Was Too Late

"Just glad to be out of the water."

When Ryan Nichols — a former marine — arrived in North Carolina, the water from Hurricane Florence was quickly flooding the region. 

"It was rising pretty fast," he told Ellen DeGeneres during a recent appearance on her show.

Fortunately, he was there to save lives, having left his home in Texas to help with evacuations. Not long after he arrived, he helped evacuate a church filled with people before finding six dogs locked in a pen. The animals surely would have drowned if he hadn't set them free. Video footage from Nichols' rescue shows him helping dogs escape the rising water and getting to drier land. 

After letting them out, the dogs were eating, happy, and "just glad to be out of the water," Nichols says. Later, he adds that he and his friend managed to rescue at least 25 people and 10 animals during his efforts.

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Prior to Hurricane Florence, people literally stood in line to foster animals left in shelters as they braced for the storm. And since then, people such as Nichols have stepped up to the plate to rescue animals that were left behind and separated from their families. 

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety says that more than 1,000 animal rescues occurred during and after Florence, The Daily Tar Heel reports

Animal rescues in these instances are both important and overwhelming: Nancy Ryan, who works in an animal shelter in Wilmington, North Carolina, told NPR's Brian Mann that there are different ways animals become separated from their families during storms. Some people dropped off their pets prior to fleeing the hurricane; some other pets get "lost in the confusion," Mann reports

"We have a lot of animals here. And we keep getting them," Ryan says. 

Mann reports that the shelters he's visited in North Carolina "say they'll keep all the dogs and cats made homeless by the storm and try to reunite them with their families." Volunteer and nonprofit groups from other areas have helped take in those animals that were in shelters, waiting to be adopted, before Florence.

For his part, Nichols also explains how he adopted two dogs, both of whom were rescued from Hurricane Harvey. Nichols also adds that he lost his home in that hurricane, so it seemed like the moment was perfect for DeGeneres to surprise him for his heroism. 

She surprises him by announcing that Shutterfly will be making a $25,000 donation to the Humane Society of the United States in his name to its team on the ground helping animals affected by Florence. Its website also provides helpful information for those who want to help animals affected by disasters. As for humans affected by disasters, DeGeneres had a final gift for Nichols and a friend to reward them for saving the lives of so many, which you can see in the clip above.

This isn't the first time we've seen people focusing on animal rescue efforts after a hurricane. In 2017, Miranda Lambert's charity, MuttNation, rescued dozens of dogs following Hurricane Harvey while a Southwest Airlines flight loaded up with 64 dogs and cats displaced by Hurricane Harvey brought the animals to safety. 

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