Tropical storm Elsa absolutely devastated Florida and Georgia as it blew in earlier this week. It hit land on Wednesday and caused devastating damage when it hit a campground at a navy base in southeast Georgia. Winds reached speeds of 45mph (72kph) even after 9 hours of landfall. It's predicted Elsa will remain in tropical storm status until Friday, with warnings in place from North Carolina to Massachusetts.
It's been reported that at least one life has been tragically lost to the disaster in Jacksonville, Florida, when a tree fell due to heavy rains and struck 2 cars, according to Capt Eric Prosswimmer of the Jacksonville fire rescue department, as per the Guardian.
"Now is a time to remember... that weather is unpredictable," Jacksonville's mayor, Lenny Curry, said during a news conference on Wednesday evening as he urged drivers to stay off the road. "This is really early in the season. We're just outside of the July 4th holiday, we've had our first storm and, unfortunately, we've had a fatality."
But amidst the chaos and horror, there has been one overwhelming story of hope.
One Florida sheriff's K-9 officer managed to go above and beyond in the line of duty. A twelve-year-old girl ended up missing from the rest of her family during the chaos of Storm Elsa and was reported to authorities on Tuesday night. She was missing in Lee County, an area in southwest Florida.
But the Lee County Sheriff's Department has confirmed that one of their canine officers managed to track down the young girl and reunite her with her family. Sheriff Carmine Marceno used the department's ReUnite program (a search and rescue operation for at-risk individuals) to search for the girl. But the real star of the show was undoubtedly K-9 Officer, Mercy.
"Last night, deputies responded to a reported missing endangered twelve-year-old girl. As part of Sheriff Carmine Marceno's Reunite Program, K-9 Mercy responded to assist in the search. Despite severe weather from Tropical Storm Elsa, Mercy tracked the little girl for more than half a mile through thick woods. Thankfully, Mercy found her and brought her safely back home to her family," the Lee County Sheriff Department wrote on Facebook.
The internet has (understandably) gone wild for this brave and heroic pooch:
"You deserve a lot of treats for working so hard," one commenter wrote. Another added: "You're an awesome K-9 Police Officer Mercy! Thank you for your service. Great job!"
"Sending Blessings to you all for finding that child a bringing her home. Mercy you deserve some special treats Thank You for all you do," added a third.
What a truly heroic pup. Our thoughts are with the girl, her family, and all those affected by Storm Elsa.