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Water on Old Hwy. 79 vexes commuters

Posted on Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 10:13 am


The recent flooding in the Elsberry area has kept the Elsberry Fire Department busy these last few weeks.

However, they haven’t been dealing with the usual barrage of fires, vehicle accidents or other injuries.

Rather, they’ve been rescuing people whose vehicles have somehow become trapped in rising river water.

On July 10 two adult males were traveling together and drove off into the floodwater on Old Hwy. 79 in Elsberry.

“They drove off until the water was up to the windshield of the truck,” said Elsberry Fire Chief Kevin Hailey. “We had to extricate them from the vehicle and take them to shore.”

While that incident might seem like sort of a fluke, Hailey said that a number of similar events, all on the same stretch of Old Hwy. 79, continued to occur during the course of the ensuing weeks.

“The other incidents involved people who had driven off into the water but then managed to extricate themselves before the fire department arrived,” said Hailey. “Their cars had to be removed by towing services.”

Hailey said that while he doesn’t precisely understand how those types of accidents occur he tends to believe that it has something to do with the inability to judge depth from shore.

“In reality you can’t really tell how deep the water is until you’re out there in the middle of it,” said Hailey.

That said, however, there are signs posted to help commuters avoid the danger of rising floodwater.

“The Elsberry Special Road District did go down and put some barricades up later on after the first incident to try to help keep people out,” said Hailey. “Unfortunately, people just drive around those.”