Renee Finley, 27, is like so many partners and spouses of first responders who've had to see their loved ones head into areas destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.

"He said, 'it just doesn't feel real until you get there,'" Finley said.

Sgt. Nicholas Carson, 25, of San Angelo, is one of the 12,000 guardsmen deployed in the wake of tragedy in Houston and its surrounding communities.

But it's a job Finley said Carson has been trained for and is happy to be doing.

"He said that it's a rewarding job, but it's really really sad," she said. "He's seen people that literally been trying to gather the most important things that they can, memories of the family and what not."

Carson has been working in search and rescue missions.

"He's seen cars that are completely underwater, families that want to leave but don't want to lose the memories of their homes," Finley said.

A flood of images from the devastation of Harvey has reached the entire country. But one of Sgt. Carson, photographed by Alyssa Schukar for the New York Times, hit close to home.

Meanwhile as relief efforts continue Finley said she's beyond proud and awaits Carson's return.

"It's exciting to see somebody that you love going out to do what they have a passion for, and at the same time it's kind of like please be safe and just make sure you come home," she said.