Rockford man travels to Houston to save lives using hovercraft i - – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford man travels to Houston to save lives using hovercraft in floodwater


Bill Zang is a Rockford resident who traveled far from home to Beaumont, TX. The owner of Universal Hovercrafts is in an unfamiliar location but hardly in an unfamiliar situation. He traveled to help assist and save others after Hurricane Harvey rocked southwest Texas. 

"People get themselves in trouble but we are here to help," said Zang. "We just happen to have the right tool for the job today." 

The tool is a hovercraft. It's something he and his partner Chris Cyr developed while helping with rescues after Hurricane Katrina. Since then, they have saved countless lives. 

"We've lost count," said Cyr. "I don't really know. I mean we don't really keep count. We just keep going back out there whenever we're needed." 

Countless lives in unthinkable circumstances. 

On this day, Zang and his team of about 10 volunteers are located on the flooded highway of I-69 in Beaumont, TX. 

In the middle of the highway is a man stuck in rushing waters, gripping the center median. The man's sister, Amy Torres watched in horror as Bill and his team figured out a plan to save the man. 

"I've been talking with these people for over an hour trying to find a way to get to him," said Torres. "My kids keep calling. They're worried about their uncle." 

Bill traveled to Texas to help in this situation and it's why he took off into the floodwaters to rescue him. The man is a mere stranger to Bill, but he's everything to Amy who watches nervously from the highway. 

"My brother oh my goodness. I would just have  heart attack if something happened to him," said Torres. 

Minutes pass and soon Bill and Amy's brother Cody are back on solid ground. A feat that wouldn't have been possible without Bill Zang and his team of people risking their lives for others.

 "He's alright. Thank God," said Torres. "Thank God for these people out here risking their lives to save people that need it. I don't even know how to thank 'em. There's no way really. There's no way."

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