CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Savannah-Chatham Metro Police officers rescued the American flag along Highway 80, the only route that leads to Tybee Island.
Hurricane Irma hit the Georgia coast on the 16th anniversary of 9/11 and officers were determined to save the iconic flag near Fort Pulaski.
Hwy 80 was completely under water at one point. In fact, we were trapped on Tybee for a while. As that water receded, that's when the officers noticed the flag had been knocked over and was submerged underwater.
There's not much to see along the stretch of Hwy 80 between the mainland and Tybee Island except for this flag positioned just across the street from Ft. Pulaski National Monument.
"I know it's been here since '87, so it's an important landmark," said SCMPD Lt. Greg Ernst.
"You always look for it. You always see it. Everybody knows this flag," said SCMPD Capt. Ashley Brown.
And everyone who knows this flag also knows that this road floods during astronomically high tides, often trapping people on the island. It was expected during Hurricane Irma and the surge nearly broke the record.
But as soon as the water started to recede, Lt. Ernst and Capt. Brown began clearing the road and assessing the damage. There was debris all over the road, even a couple of boats were blocking both lanes.
But there was one thing that really grabbed their attention.
"Ernie and I didn't even talk about it. We just jumped out of the car and got it off the ground," Capt. Brown said.
The flag had been knocked over by the strong winds and was drenched during the surge so they took it with them to dry it out.
"We were doing what was right," Lt. Ernst said.
As Irma pounded Georgia's east coast on Sept. 11th, the 16th anniversary of 9/11 was overshadowed as many were bracing for the storm.
"It didn't even cross my mind until I got home and started calming down and started thinking about it," Capt. Brown said.
Just two days later, they put it back up so that it would be there to greet the residents who were returning home.
"It was important for us to get it done so that it would be some sort of sense of normalcy. You know they see the flag…I'm going home," Lt. Ernst said.
Two officers in Hardeeville, SC were also captured on video rescuing an American flag from the wrath of Irma's winds on 9/11.