County fire companies, rescue teams make 14 water rescues

by Kate Evans

Area fire companies responded to multiple water rescues around the county and assisted water rescue teams from other counties during the worst of the flooding on Sunday. Residents were trapped in vehicles and also in their homes.

Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Company Chief Jimmy Reed said their firefighters responded to two water rescues on Sunday. The first rescue was Sunday morning between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. where a family of two adults and a child were stuck in their house on Cacapon Road because of rising waters.

Swift water rescue teams were deployed from the Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company on June 3.

Two fire company members had to go up to Hancock and come down the railroad tracks to access their home by Woodmont Road that they couldn’t reach because of the flooding on Route 9 West by Wiggins Run Road. Once they made access around the flooded area they were able to reach the family on foot and walk them out, Reed said.

A water rescue on Sunday evening after dark involved a man that had driven into standing water on Clarion Lane, which is near the Great Cacapon Bridge. When firefighters arrived, they found the gentleman had walked out from his vehicle on his own, he said. He was uninjured.

Reed said that the fire department also pumped out water from a couple of flooded basements as a community service. As of Sunday morning Great Cacapon was flooded in two different places on Route 9 West-by Wiggins Run and by the Great Cacapon bridge and both low water bridges were flooded. At 7 a.m. Monday both low water bridges were still flooded.

South Morgan

South Morgan Volunteer Fire Chief Mark Miller said the first water rescue their firefighters responded to was around 10 a.m. on Sunday on Fish Hatchery Road. They received calls three times about the same vehicle and responded to the same location three times. The man was rescued by someone that was driving by who had a canoe on their truck.

They also responded to a water rescue around the 6000 block of Winchester Grade Road by Spielman Road on Sunday about 6:30 p.m. The man was rescued by a Maryland fire company boat. He drove right into the water and the floodwaters pushed his vehicle and carried it away out into a field, Miller said.

“I don’t know what possesses people to do that,” he said.

Officials always advise people to never attempt to cross flooded roadways.

Berkeley Springs

Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company Deputy Chief Marshall Younker said Berkeley Springs as well as other county volunteer fire companies don’t have water rescue teams and their responses were to support the water rescue teams from outside the county.

Younker said those teams included Frederick County, VA team based out of Stephen’s City station 11, Berkeley County Fire, based from Berkeley County, Bakerton Fire Department based out of Jefferson County, Washington County Special Operation, Washington County, and Frederick County, Maryland   teams that were based out of Nee Market, Carroll Manor, Junior Fire Company and Independent Hose Company along with their Battalion 902 that assigned with command support.

Younker said there were also units operating in the Paw Paw area but those weren’t directly connected to their operations.

Paw Paw rescues

The Allegany County Swift Water Team, a branch of the county’s Special Operations Division, was asked Sunday morning to assist in Paw Paw where citizens were trapped in their vehicles and homes from the devastating flooding. They performed four different rescues, assisting people across floodwaters at three shallow water crossings, according to team leader Shannon Adams.

They performed one boat rescue with assistance from Potomac Valley Fire Company from Washington County and rescued residents from a trailer park. The Allegany County swift water team had 16 technicians from Allegany, Garrett and Mineral Counties that rescued ten people on Sunday and also assisted in water rescues in Hampshire County.

Allegany County’s Division of Emergency Medical Services has temporarily stationed an ambulance in Oldtown staffed with a medic and EMS technician after Sunday’s flooding to reduce the strain on Morgan County Emergency Medical Services who generally responds to calls in that area.

Public information officer Todd Bowman said the ambulance would be stationed at Oldtown for three days and then the need for extended coverage would be reevaluated.