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Jerry Atwood, Michael Atwood, Candace DeWeese and Kaylea Mae Subartowicz, all of Milltown, watch as Blue River begins to rise at the town. Photo by Leslie Radcliff

Flash flood rescue near Marengo

July 03, 2013
Deviating weather patterns have had meteorologists, farmers and the common man raising their eyebrows throughout the last decade, but it was a torrential downpour and subsequent flash flooding that created several problems throughout the area last week that has had officials sending out safety messages.

In Crawford County, a woman was rescued from flash-floodwaters on Valeene Road just north of Marengo last Wednesday.

A pickup truck is pulled from high water along Camp Jerry Road near Sulphur last Thursday morning. Photo by Chris Adams
According to a press release, Cpl. Terry Allen of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources was responding to another rescue attempt of a vehicle in flood waters on Valeene Road when he reached a spot on the road that could not be crossed in his vehicle.

Allen witnessed Lashea Bierman, 40, of Marengo, walking across the fast-moving water. Allen encouraged Bierman to get out of the floodwater, but she insisted on going to check on her daughter, who was the driver of the vehicle Allen was assisting.

Bierman then was swept down a branch of Whiskey Run Creek. Allen requested assistance from the Marengo Liberty Volunteer Fire Department when he lost sight of her.

Rescuers located Bierman clinging to a clump of bushes on the north side of the flooded water 40 feet from rescuers.

A firefighter with a rope attempted to cross the water to assist in towing Bierman back across the fast moving water but was unable to reach the other side safely.

Ultimately, Allen was able to reach her by using his rescue throw bag, and she was pulled to the other side of the floodwaters to safety.

Bierman was treated by the Crawford County Emergency Medical Services and released with minor injuries.

Indiana conservation officers remind everyone that it is important to never walk or drive into flooded areas or fast moving water.

According to the National Weather Service, severe weather claimed more than 500 lives in 2012 and caused more than $38 billion worth of damage. In Indiana, there were 19 fatalities and $73 million worth of damage.

Floods are among the most costly natural disasters and tend to occur more frequently in comparison to other disasters. Conditions that contribute to flooding include heavy or steady rain for several hours or days that saturates the ground. Once the ground is saturated, precipitation has no where to go but up.

Flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along streams and low-lying areas.

The American Red Cross recommends families prepare for flooding by keeping a three-day supply of water and food (recommended one gallon of water per person per day), flashlights, batteries, a first-aid kit, a seven-day supply of all needed medications, an emergency blanket, copies of personal documents and emergency cash available.

The Red Cross also recommends listening to area radio or television stations for updates on severe weather.

Law enforcement officials caution people to stay inside during severe weather and to follow these safety tips if they find themselves outdoors during potentially flood-like conditions:

•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 you off of your feet.

•If you are caught on a flooded road and cannot turn around and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.

•Be especially cautious at night when it is more difficult to recognize flood danger.

•Keep children out of the water.

For more information on severe weather safety, go to www.redcross.org or www.indiana.gov.

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