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High Water Rescues Tapping Resources

Last updated on Wednesday, February 1, 2012

(BROWNSTOWN) -High water rescues are tapping resources at Brownstown. (Tribune)

Three officers with the sheriff's department, six Brownstown firefighters and a Brownstown police officer, four ambulance workers and a state conservation officer with a boat went to the rescue of a motorist stranded in floodwaters along the East Fork White River.

No one was hurt when a Bedford man and a relative from Michigan were headed to Brownstown after navigating other flooded areas east of Indiana 135. The men got stuck in high water along Slab Road on Saturday morning.

The men reported that water was coming in their van. A pickup used to plow snow at the county jail was used to pull the men from their vehicle. The water was 18 inches deep.
Sheriff Michael Carothers says calls to pull stranded motorists from floodwaters are increasingly putting first responders and others at risk, but it looks as though the sheriff's department may receive some assistance in preventing such calls from occurring.

County officers once wrote citations for people ignoring high water signs, but Carothers say he feels he can't do that now because of recent signage installed by the county. The signs read "High water enter at your own risk."

In the past, motorists driving around flood warning signs were issued a ticket for violating signage, which Carothers says carries a fine of $100.

Carothers says he's unsure why the signage changed Commissioners President Jerry Hounshel says the board should take another look at the wording of those signs.

The change came when flood warning gates were taken down from along Base Line Road north of Brownstown and Sparksville Road in Carr Township, Hounshel says.
Water rescues puts responders at risk when they enter floodwaters to reach those stranded but also pose other risks, including for anyone else in the county needing those tied-up resources.

Carothers says a large number of rescue workers respond because they never know what you are facing. EMS workers can get wet and go into hypothermia. And if the current is swift, there is safety in numbers.

Flooding along East Fork White River should ease this week, according to the National Weather Service.

The river's level is falling, but the county remains under a flood warning. The river crested at 16.61 feet at 2 a.m. Saturday.

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