Amarillo Fire Department prepares for potential flooding and water rescues

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 9:25 PM CDT|Updated: May. 24, 2023 at 10:12 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The Amarillo area has the potential to see two inches to 4 inches of rain over the next few days and the Amarillo Fire Department is preparing.

Usually, when you see our firefighters they’re throwing water at something, but in the case of this week, the water is the hazard.

According to Captain Jeremy Hill, Amarillo Fire Department has its trucks stocked with equipment and gear-- ready to either fight fires or perform a water rescue.

“We’ve got stuff on the truck and we carry with us all the time. We’ve got throw ropes, we’ve got floating devices. we’ve got a whole rescue team ready to do flooding rescues but really what we want to do is prepare the community to stay out of those situations,” says Hill.

Captain Hill says they have an operational rescue acronym the firefighters go off of called “Reach Throw Go.”

If they can’t “reach” you with one of their poles, they will “throw” you a floatation device or rope, and if all else fails, they “go” to you.

Amarillo Fire Department advises against driving if you don’t have to when inclement weather is present, the best rule of thumb is if you can’t see the road, you shouldn’t drive in that direction.

If you do find yourself in a situation where you are about to become stuck, Captain Jeremy Hill with Amarillo Fire says it is best to pull over and be patient.

“If the road conditions get in such a way and you feel like you cannot go any further, pull off the road. We have motorists that they will shut it down on the highway, they’ll shut it down in the roadways and obviously because of the hazards of the pouring rain, people can’t see you. We have traffic accidents that happen that way,” says Hill.

If you see standing water in the road, do not drive through it, and do not take refuge on the road.

If you cannot find an alternate path, Hill says it is best to pull onto the shoulder or a parking lot and wait for the water to go down. We’ve already seen rainfall over the past few days, setting up the potential for flooding

“When we have saturated ground, it’s not one to absorb. All that rain is gonna come and if it comes at a fast rate and the drainage systems can’t handle it, it just does has nowhere to go. So it just runs off goes across roadways, inundates overpasses and underpasses. Low-lying areas and that’s when we get into trouble,” said Doppler Dave Oliver, Chief Meteorologist.

According to Captain Jeremy Hill with Amarillo Fire, two of the biggest hazards are in the downtown area.

“Right underneath the railroad tracks right on 10th and right on third, we’ve had multiple fatalities in those two areas right there. The water collects, it doesn’t drain very fast and we have had people die in those areas,” says Hill.

Hill adds with thunderstorms come high winds and dangers other than flooding arise.

“In the thunderstorms, you’re also going to have downed power lines, and now you’ve got standing water. So there’s gonna be hazards that you don’t even recognize,” said Hill.

Gear is crucial for fighting and it differs depending on what situation the firemen are in. They have two different uniforms one for wildfires, one for structures, and when it comes to flooding layers of the structural gear have to come off.

“Now the structural suit the one we wear into structural fires, you think of all those different layers and if you go onto water now its a drowning hazard,” says Hill.