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Posted: September 27, 2009 12:01 a.m.

Flood Coverage: ‘You take a chance every time you put that boat in the water’

Newton County Fire’s Chief Deputy Tim Smith’s shares his stories

Submitted Photo/

Tim Smith

According to Newton County Fire Department Deputy Chief Tim Smith, as waters continue to recede, the threat of impending rain is a concern — albeit a slight one.

"We’re just going to have to take it one day at a time. But it would have to rain a lot to raise it [Yellow River] back up to where it was at."

The river was forecast to be at around 5.3-feet Friday through Tuesday which is a normal level. It peaked at over 22-feet the previous Tuesday afternoon and stood at 11-feet (the flood level) Wednesday evening.

For residents affected at Riverside Estates Mobile Home Park, it will likely take longer for waters to recede, allowing residents living in the lower levels of the park to get back to their normal lives.

"The water doesn’t have anywhere to drain," said Smith. "So it will just have to soak back into the ground naturally and that may take a little longer."

Smith was forced to take the fire department’s boat out in order to evacuate two families in the mobile home park and two on East Dollar Circle. He praised owners of Riverside Estates as well as residents for taking the initiative and moving their belongings as they started to see the water rise.

"Normally, when we know it’s going to rain like this, we go out to the trailer parks and give the owners a warning," he said. "The local emergency management service went out Sunday or Monday and told them they were expecting a lot of rain and forecasting flooding and to remove the trailers."

But removing trailers is just the start of it. Before anyone can come in to help evacuate, the power must be cut off if water will be around the area.

"You take a chance every time you put that boat in the water," said Smith. "You fight the current; you don’t know what type of debris could be in the water — maybe covered up that you can’t see. And then you have to move people from a home to a boat and navigate them so they get to you safely. There are a lot of different obstacles that come in to play and in situations like this your training kicks it. When times get tough that’s what it all goes back to is that training."

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