Belleville, Illinois — Heavy rain earlier this week left drivers stranded in high water, prompting multiple water rescues in the Metro East area.
Two to three inches of rain on Wednesday caused trouble in a place known for flash floods.
Belleville Fire Department assists Mascoutah firefighters with water rescue near Scott Air Force Base
“The people who worked last night were trained in rapid water rescue. We had them come to the station to pick up our trailers and boat equipment,” Belleville Fire Department Deputy Chief Lance Phelps said.
The team’s training came into play as they made their way through the water to rescue.
“Our rescuers reported that during the rescue, their water was no more than knee-high, but it was still a lot of water,” Deputy Commissioner Phelps said. “It’s rushing across the road.”
During heavy rain, the first thing to remember is the phrase, ‘Turn-Around. Don’t drown.
Deputy Commissioner Phelps said to be aware of and avoid areas known for flooding and to pay attention to signs warning you of possible danger.
“It may be that warning signs of possible flash flooding in a particular area were ignored. In fact, there were signs in that area where the rescue was,” Deputy Commissioner Phelps said.
Every situation is different, but if you find yourself stranded, try to move to higher ground, but do everything possible to avoid walking in rough water. Plus, a floating car only needs a few inches of water.
“Even in a vehicle, six inches of water is enough to move that vehicle. 20 inches, making sure the vehicle will float,” he said.
While firefighters eventually made it through the water to rescue the driver, they were trained to do so and had special equipment.
“They have a special wetsuit for rescue,” Deputy Commissioner Phelps said.
They use a device called a spear shaft.
“They can feel what’s going on in front of them. The area they’re going to go into. For anyone who feels like you know well that firefighters can go through there, it’s not safe for the average person to do that,” he said. “There’s been a lot of training on this.”