HFD unit went to Southeast Missouri during flooding last year

Fire Chief Mike Benjamin said the Hannibal Fire Department's Swift Water Rescue Team is prepared for action in response to flooding rains forecasted for this weekend in Northeast Missouri.

"It is a possibility that we may have to put our Swift Water Team on standby," Benjamin said. "We are at an awareness level now, but that could change depending on how the weather comes through. It is kind of a guessing game dealing with the weather."

While on standby, the six-member team would gather at the fire station where their equipment is stored and wait for deployment instructions. The fire department could supply additional manpower if a water emergency were to arise.

"We are one of the main (water rescue) teams, if not the main team, in this area and region," Benjamin said.

"These swift water guys are the experts in that (water rescue) field and would be the ones who would be the front on (rescues). We would play a backup role to help them out. There are things we could do as a fire department to help them on the shore."

The HFD's Swift Water Rescue Team was deployed last year to southern Missouri to help with flood relief and evacuation efforts. The team was credited with saving the life of a man trapped by flood waters near the Madison County town of Fredericktown.

Benjamin said his department's water rescue team could be performing similar duties this weekend, "only it would be more in our area this time."

danny.henley@courierpost.com