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Emergency Crews Kept Busy by Weekend’s ‘1000 Year Flood Event’

Fire Station 10-Water Rescue
Russell Hargrave and Brian Thompson from Station-10 in Springfield. Credit-Shane Franklin

Record rains over the weekend kept emergency response teams in Springfield busy. KSMU’s Shane Franklin spoke with two local firefighters about these record weather events, and what to do to stay safe when on the road during heavy rain.

One block in Southern Springfield received 8-11 inches of rain in only three hours over the weekend; the likelihood of which the National Weather Service says is once every thousand years in the Ozarks.  The event issued the first ever Flood Emergency status in Greene County.

Russell Hargrave and Brian Thompson, firefighters from Station-10 in Springfield, responded to several water rescue calls after the heavy rain on Saturday. They said their team’s extensive training ensured their swift and effective action, even during the historic rainfall.

Here’s Brian Thompson.

“To be on the team we have to pass a swimming agility test, which is 300 meters, some sprinting, treading water with a brick, and untying knots underneath the water,” said Thompson.

After you make it onto the water rescue team, they have monthly meetings, to work on boating in rising flood waters, to practice nighttime rescues, and even to swim against strong currents to simulate flood water conditions.

Hargrave, who also responded to last weekend’s calls, says that many of the emergencies could be prevented if drivers used more caution when waters are rising and flowing over streets.

“Turn around, don’t drown,” is the best piece of advice Hargrave gives drivers.

“We have fire trucks and water rescue rigs, but we don’t go through the water either. They’re heavier than most cars, but we avoid going through the water as well,” said Hargrave

Hargrave says you never know when a once familiar road can simply be swept away, so just turn around and find another route. He also recommends that drivers pay close attention to road signs posting known high water locations, and to listen to your radio during heavy rains to stay informed on where the flooding is occurring so you can plan a safe route home.

For KSMU News, I’m Shane Franklin.