East Tennessee TWRA officers assist in S.C. flooding
(WBIR) Eight TWRA Wildlife Officers from East Tennessee have spent the past week in Columbia, S.C. assisting with flooding issues.
This comes a decade after officers were sent New Orleans, La. for search and rescue missions following Hurricane Katrina.
The team included Lt. Jeff Prater, Sgt. Joe Durnin, Sgt. Roy Smith, WO Clint Smith, WO Anthony Chitwood, WO Curt Henderson, WO John Ripley and WO Ryan Rosier.
The team worked with local EMS performing swift water rescues, grid searches of flooded neighborhoods, welfare checks on elderly and infirm individuals, and delivering bottled water to those in need.
The TWRA boat teams assisted many individuals who were trapped or needing rescued from their vehicles, which either stalled out or were swept away by swift water.
The team was also called to help three individuals who had been swept off of a roadway and into the adjacent wood line by swift moving water flowing over the road. The team was transported as close to the stranded vehicle as possible using 2 1/2 ton military personnel carriers, and rope and pulley systems were used to retrieve each victim from the fast moving water. One of the individuals rescued was a 2-year-old child.
"I told the medical crews to check that child for broken ribs. I squeezed the child so hard and there was no way I was letting go," Sgt. Smith said.
The team also delivered medical supplies to a treatment center that specializes in treating childhood cancers.
The initial teams returned home on Oct. 9 and were relieved by eight more officers from TWRA.
The new crews consist of Sgt. Ben Davis, WO Marty Griffith, WO Joe McSpadden, WO Jarod Coxey, WO Tony Cross, WO Pete Geesling, WO Jason Ramsey, and WO Johnny Poston.
These teams will continue to search affected areas and assist in evacuating areas east of Columbia as the floodwaters flow east toward other towns nearer the coast.