Master Sergeant Shimkus (left) and Lt. Colonel Simmons (right) with the Sandra Day O’Connor Jr. AFROTC at the Veterans Memorial.
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DMFD performs four water rescues during last week's storms

10/28/2015

Elizabeth Medora
Staff

NORTH VALLEY – Last week’s severe storms brought heavy rainfall, hail, flash flood warnings, severe thunderstorm warnings, and even a tornado warning in parts of the Valley. Approximately two inches of rain fell in some North Valley areas over last Tuesday and Wednesday.

The storms flooded multiple roadways; some vehicle occupants became stranded after attempting to cross flooded areas. Daisy Mountain Fire Department performed four water rescues over the course of the storms last Tuesday and Wednesday. The rescues were all successful, with no injuries to those in the vehicles or to the rescuers.

Due to flooding, SR 74 west of I-17 was closed, reopened, and closed again during the storms. Multiple New River and Desert Hills roadways were closed due to flooded roadways, including major flooding in the Honda Bow area. DMFD opened the north emergency access gate on the evening of Oct. 20 to help residents get to their homes.

Trying to cross flooded roadways is extremely hazardous for drivers and for the rescuers who respond to a stranded motorist’s call for help. While DMFD was able to safely rescue stranded drivers in last week’s storms, it’s always risky for rescuers to attempt a water rescue.

“Unfortunately, this situation is one that the Daisy Mountain Fire Department encounters several times a year when we see heavy rains,” reported Captain Dave Wilson of the Daisy Mountain Fire Department. “Rescues of this nature can be extremely dangerous for both vehicle occupants as well as rescuers.” 

According to the National Weather Service, each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm-related hazard.

“People underestimate the force and power of water,” the National Weather Service states in its ‘Turn Around, Don’t Drown initiative. “Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded. A mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. It is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters.”

Wilson emphasized that it is difficult to judge the depth and current of floodwaters – just because the water looks shallow doesn’t mean that it is.

“We always recommend that drivers take a pessimistic approach when driving in inclement weather,” Wilson said. “Never cross flooded roadways, especially when they are barricaded. It is difficult to judge how deep the water may be, how fast the current is, or if the roadway has been washed away underneath.”