DNR saves dozens from Iowa flood waters

People and animals rescued since March 14.

Posted: Mar 25, 2019 3:16 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa – State conservation officers and park rangers have been rescuing dozens of people and animals from the flood waters that have battered western and southwestern Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says more than 34 of its agents have been working since March 14 in two-officer teams per boat from dawn to dusk. These boats have saved 31 people, 17 dogs, 9 cats and one iguana.

“Our officers are going door-to-door in boats to make entry into the flood ravaged homes to rescue the families and pets and bring them to safety throughout the flooded towns,” said Jeff Swearngin, Chief of the DNR Law Enforcement Bureau. “There’s no doubt the work they are doing and have done is the difference between life and death.”

The DNR is highlighting two rescue efforts in particular:

- On March 14, a DNR conservation officer and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services refuge officer rescued two homebound people trapped by the floodwaters in Missouri Valley. Working with other emergency personnel, the officers broke out the window to the room where the victims were located to find both victims suffering from severe hypothermia and going in and out of consciousness. The officers faced with high winds and dangerous whitecaps making the rescue much more difficult. Both people were taken to a local hospital and survived.

- On March 16, DNR conservation officers responded to Riverton to rescue two people trapped by the floodwaters after they drove around road closed barriers and took on water. One man had climbed a tree to escape the water and was clinging to it when officers arrived. He was suffering from severe hypothermia and was transported to a hospital for treatment and survived. While trying to rescue the other man, officers held his head above the 34-degree water for nearly 40 minutes. The man received emergency medical attention but died on the way to the hospital.

DNR officers have also transported Mid-American Energy officials around towns and areas inundated by flood waters to shut down electricity, transported other officials with assessing damage to public facilities and water treatment plants, assisted emergency management officials with assessing damage to levees and other infrastructure, and helped the DOT with assessing structural integrity of I-680 bridges.

All images courtesy of Iowa DNR

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