Emergency Crews Warn to Stay Away from Flash Floods This Weekend
St. Louis County emergency responders met Thursday morning at the command center of Metro West Fire Protection District in Wildwood to collectively prepare for incoming storm Isaac. They fear people will plunge into flood waters.
Somewhere between 3 to 5 inches of rainfall is expected to move slowly over St. Louis between Friday and Saturday, which is less first predicted.
Once St. Louis County emergency responders heard from the National Weather Service expert, Jim Kramper, on Thursday morning that Tropical Depression Isaac may not unleash as much danger to St. Louis, they immediately turned their preparations to swift water rescue planning.
A countywide preparation session was hosted at Wildwood-based Metro West Fire Protection District's command center.
Michael Thiemann, coordinator of Metro West's Emergency Management, shared the following public safety tips about flashing floods from the American Red Cross:
- Listen to area radio and television stations and national weather radio updates for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress from the National Weather Service.
- Be prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice.
- When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
- Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep people off their feet.
- If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Keep children out of the water; they are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
Metro West paramedic Lt. Scott Hulsey demonstrated on Thursday what tools are in rescuers' swift water kits for conditions such as expected in St. Louis County this weekend. Kits have helmets and water suits, in addition to throw ropes, gloves, vests, glow sticks, swift water fins and goggles.
He said Metro West has 13 certified swift water rescuers. "We ensure that two swift water reps go out on every run, and have three or four of us available for every shift."
He said the water this weekend likely will be 80 to 85 degrees, but with the cold rain, will cause a shivering issue. "The suits help stabilize us and allow us to do our jobs during water rescues. We're ready."