MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO (KPLR)– When rough weather threatens, emergency crews across the St. Louis area gear up. Virtually every firefighters in the Pattonville Fire District have some training in swift water rescues. It’s one of the few in the North County area prepared to deal with flash flood rescues. They train a few times each year. A rescue is a big operation and can require as many as 15 firefighters on the scene and lots of equipment. It’s a dangerous job.
Officials always warn motorists it only takes a few inches of water on a roadway to carry away a car. They also remind folks not to wade into rushing waters. K.J. Spurlock is a battalion chief at Pattonville, “When this water comes so fast and it comes up through these sewer drains it can actually come up with enough force to take those sewer lids off and then as the water comes back down now you have a big drain hole and people can get sucked into those open drain manholes and not be able to get out.
Crews at the St. Louis Emergency Operation Center begin monitoring storms when they begin rolling into Missouri. The E.OC. first opened decades ago as a fallout shelter during the Cold War. Now it’s used when violent storms hit and there’s a great deal of destruction. Workers are on call 24 hours a day. Hundreds of weather spotters in the county volunteer to update the E.O.C. on storms and on any damage caused by the weather.
Dan Stumpf is a spokesman for the E.O.C., “They’re our eyes and ears on the ground they can get back into neighborhoods. Because the police are dealing with emergencies on hand, they can go back in neighborhoods and see what’s happening in their own neighborhoods and go back into other neighborhoods with their own personal vehicle and tell us through the amateur radio network what actually happened.