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Contact: Dennis Weiland, 573-323-4923
Contact: Lindel Gregory, 573-323-8013
Van Buren, MO – Torrential rain of over 6 inches fell on a small concentrated area of the Current River watershed on the afternoon of June 29th. The Carter County Sheriff's Department requested emergency assistance for the threatened and trapped residents of Fremont, Missouri from flash flooding of Pike Creek. Ozark National Scenic Riverways responded to the emergency by providing eight rangers and deploying four patrol boats to help the flood victims.
More typically seen on the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, the park's Swift Water Rescue Team was running their boats across submerged streets and pastures to reach people stranded in their homes by rising water. About fifteen people, including two infants and at least one dog, were transported safely to higher ground by the rangers. "It was pretty challenging, as sometimes the boats were in ten feet of water, and other times in just a few inches with pavement below," recalls Ranger Lindel Gregory who was the National Park Service's Type 4 Incident Commander on the scene.
Ranger Chris Figge reported that they faced hazards not typically seen on the river, at one point hitting a submerged dumpster with his boat. "Lots of propane tanks broke loose floating down the flooded creek.At one house, a propane tank had crashed into the house and the valve was open, filling the house with propane. Seven folks were rescued from that house, which could have been a very dangerous situation. A lot of people lost everything they had," Figge said. Ranger Gregory adds, "The entire town was underwater, but luckily there were no serious injuries that we were aware of."
The National Park Service was one of several agencies on the scene working together to help people. The Carter County Sherriff's Department was the lead agency with assistance from the Van Buren Fire Department, the Missouri Highway Patrol, and local citizens.
For more information call 573-323-4236, ext 0, or visit the park's Facebook page or website at: www.nps.gov/ozar
Ozark National Scenic Riverways preserves the free-flowing Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, the surrounding natural resources, and the unique cultural heritage of the Ozark people.