Roanoke, Virginia Swift Water Rescue Teams Respond To Flooding After Hurricane

Roanoke Fire-EMS's newly formed Swift Water Rescue Team responded to the remnants of Jeanne that caused moderate flooding in the Roanoke Valley.

The team was formed and put in place on September 1, 2004, after extensive training. This team has been activated three times since that date in response to tropical systems moving across Southwest Virginia.

On September 28, 2004 Jeanne dropped 5 - 7 inches of rain in the Roanoke area, resulting in wide-spread flooding from the swollen Roanoke River and tributaries, flooding roads, homes and businesses.

Two teams of 5 members each were activated at 7:00 a.m., September 28, 2004, staffing two zodiacs and one paddle raft. By the end of the day, these teams had performed five actual swift water rescues and evacuated by boat 43 victims to dry ground.

The swift water rescue incidents included:

  1. Two men were rescued from a track loader caught in swift water while trying to move the equipment out of harms way.
  2. One man was rescued from a tree after he was caught by the river current. He was transported for mild hypothermia.
  3. Two men were rescued from trees after getting caught in the river current.

The Roanoke's Swift Water Rescue Team responded on a mutual request to the City of Salem, also hit hard by Jeanne, for subjects trapped in their house by high water. The team escorted three individuals to safety. Salem Fire-EMS also has a Swift Water Rescue team, but they were on other incidents.

The Roanoke River crested at 17.9 feet by 3 p.m., 7.9 feet above flood stage. With the exception of the one patient's mild hypothermia, there were no other reported injuries or deaths in the Roanoke area.