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Pulaski County Special Operations Team responds to flooding emergencies at home and in Tazewell County

The Pulaski County Special Operations Team pulled double duty Thursday night as water swelled up in the New River Valley and beyond.

“We’ve had the opportunity to have the proper training to take care of these situations,” said team member Drew McClaugherty. “Before this, we would have had a lot of difficulty.”

The team is trained to respond to flooding and water-based emergencies. While Peak Creek overflowed in parts of Pulaski, three team members, including McClaugherty, drove down to Richlands to assist local crews in flood rescues.

“It was about four feet deep, chest deep,” McClaugherty said. “A lot of the town was underwater. We were very surprised to see how much of the town was flooded.”

McClaugherty and the team used a former military truck to rescue a dozen people from their submerged homes.

“It’s very helpful that we’re able to carry a lot of people and not have to put them in the water, which reduces the risk of hypothermia,” McClaugherty said. “The water was very cold and flood water is generally very dirty.”

By the time they returned to Pulaski, another emergency unfolded: a person suffered a medical emergency on Sycamore Lane, which had been washed away by the powerful Peak Creek.

“It’s rough, because you really don’t know how long it’s going to take to get them out,” said neighbor Buck Worrell.

Worrell helped take care of the victim before and during the Special Operations Team’s rescue. Worrell said he helped the Special Operations Team navigate through the raging creek, and is appreciative of how far they went to save his neighbor.

“They know how to do everything,” Worrell said. “They were awesome.”

McClaugherty said the two incidents show just how powerful the water can be, and just how much help is needed in these scenarios.

“Someday, our system may be overwhelmed, and we may have to call for help,” McClaugherty said. “We know that it will come.”

Source: WSLS News 10

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