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Flooded motorists rescued by Stamford firefighters

June 29, 2018

STAMFORD-A line of fast moving thunderstorms striking Stamford right at rush hour and dropping over an inch of rain late Thursday afternoon led to several motorists being stranded in low lying roadways.

Just before 5 p.m. three cars under the the railroad overpass on East Avenue at Myrtle Avenue were flooded in waters rising to their windows. Firefighters wearing Mustang Water Rescue Suits used pike poles and ropes to safely get to the cars and rescued four people, according to a press release from fire Capt. Philip Hayes.

Then Engine 4 was dispatched to the Elm Street railroad overpass for more flooded vehicles. Rescues were undertaken on three more cars. But even though the engine tried to block cars from going underneath the bridge, several motorists decided to challenge the rain swollen roadways and stalled in high water. Luckily no one was injured in the deluge, Hayes said.

Hayes said the Stamford Fire Department would like to remind the public of just a few of the countless hazards posed by attempts to drive through flooded roadways:

The most obvious is that the water could cause your car to stall by either entering your tail-pipe or directly flooding your engine. Your car may then fill with water causing significant damage.

A stalled car in rising water can put the occupants in immediate peril as the doors of the vehicle become difficult to open with the weight of the rising water pushing on them. It is extremely difficult to open the door of a fully submerged vehicle until the car completely fills with water. This situation will often lead to drowning.

The flood water is often mixed with sewage as the result of the sewer system being overwhelmed, and backing up, making flood waters potentially toxic.

Water rising through manholes in the roadway, often will rise with such power as to displace the manhole cover, causing an extreme hazard for both, vehicles and pedestrians moving through the water.

Passing through flood waters when rescue operations are being conducted can significantly impede rescue efforts and pose a significant personal risk to Firefighters and other rescue personnel working in the area. The wake can knock rescuers off their feet and cause other unpredictable consequences.

All of these hazards were in place at these two rescue scenes today.

jnickerson@stamfordadvocate.com