Four Rescued After Being Trapped For Hours In Flooded Creek (With Photos)
December 15, 2009
Four people were rescued in dramatic fashion Monday night after their vehicles were swept off Deere Creek Road by raging flood waters from a swollen creek.
They were rescued by a man that many are calling a hero — Mike Allen of Atmore. Allen, a private citizen, used a jet ski to rescue the four from a flooded Brushy Creek, hours after their vehicles were submerged in the rising flood waters.
The first reports of the submerged vehicles were received about 9 p.m. Initial reports indicated that as many as eight people might have trapped in the raging waters of Brushy Creek. When emergency workers arrived at the scene, the were unable to reach the victims due to the high water. Firefighters believed that they had persons trapped on a vehicle in the water, and they knew they had a man who had climbed into a tree to escape drowning. The creek was swollen so wide that the powerful spotlights of several emergency vehicle were unable to provide enough light for firefighters to determine exactly what situation they were facing.
“Help me! Help me!” A faint voice could be heard calling for help from creek. “You’ve got to come get us.”
Firemen first used a human chain — walking out into the flood water in an attempt to reach the victims. That effort failed, and the emergency workers retreated. About 10:30 p.m., they attempted to use a boat to reach the victims. Shortly after entering the raging water, the boat capsized, putting two firemen into the water. They were able to reach the shore unharmed.
“I can’t hold on any more,” one of the victims, presumably the man in the tree, yelled.
The next plan at that point, according to Atmore Fire Chief Gerry McGhee, was to wait for U.S. Coast Guard helicopter dispatched to the scene. He said the helicopter would be able to provide enough light over the scene for firefighters to determine how to make the rescue. McGhee said that the helicopter would be unable to rescue the victims from the air, because they were located directly beneath high voltage power lines. The Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Department was also working at that time to get jet skis to the scene to be used in the rescue.
(Article continues below photograph.)
The man who had been up in a tree disappeared from the view of rescuers. He then reappeared, attempted to reach dry land by walking in neck deep water while holding onto bushes. Rescue workers screamed frantically at him to stop before he reached the open waters of Brushy Creek, fearing that he would be swept downstream.
At about 11:00 p.m., Allen arrived on the opposite side of the creek from rescue workers. He deployed his jet ski and quickly rescued the first victim, who was reportedly his niece. He transported her on the jet ski to rescue workers where she was rushed to a waiting ambulance.
“He looks like a cowboy, smoking that cigarette,” one rescue worker said of Allen as he went about rescuing the victims one by one on his jet ski. He could be seen puffing away on a cigarette the entire time as he fought to keep control of the jet ski in the raging water. The last victim was rescued about 11:10 p.m., over two hours after the flood waters of Brushy Creek pushed their vehicles off the road.
In all, Allen rescued four victims – two adult males and two adult females. The four were transported by ambulance to Atmore Community Hospital for evaluation.
The Atmore Fire Department, Walnut Hill Station of Escambia Fire Rescue, Poarch Fire Department, Atmore Ambulance and the Atmore Police Department assisted in the rescue effort. Members of the Flomaton Fire Department spent their night on standby at Atmore’s main fire station.
Pictured top: One of four victims is rescued late Monday night from a flooded Brushy Creek on Deere Creek Road near Atmore. Pictured top inset: Civilian Mike Allen uses his jet ski to rescue another victim. Pictured bottom inset: Two rescuers in the water after their boat was capsized by the raging flood waters. Pictured middle: Rescuers formed a human chain in an effort to reach the victims. They were unsuccessful. Pictured below: Firemen rush one of the victims to a waiting ambulance. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.