Major flooding prompts volunteer evacuations in Columbus

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COLUMBUS (WKOW) — As the Crawfish River continued to swell and overflow its banks in Columbus, firefighters spent the day rescuing stranded citizens and helping others evacuate their homes.

“There was a lot going on within an hour or so,” said Lt. Jerrod Fox, with the Columbus Fire Department.

Residents around Campbell Street, Manning Street, River Road and others started to see the water creep into their homes early Friday morning.

“Honestly, when I first pulled up, I’m like, oh no, here we go again,” Fox added. “But thankfully, it’s not as bad as 2008, but we just sympathize with people around here. It’s been one of those winters where the unexpected has happened and hopefully everybody can get through this.”

“Everything’s completely flooded that you can’t drive through it whatsoever,” said Diane Ballweg, a resident who was evacuated.

First responders knocked on her door late Thursday night.

“We were asked if we would evacuate, we had the option. I needed to go to work this morning, so I took the option,” Ballweg explained.

Fox said as of 5 p.m. on Friday, more than 40 people had to be rescued from homes or cars. During three separate times, firefighters had to use their inflatable boat to get to those who were stranded.

The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office had its rescue vehicle out in the flood zones, helping people out and taking others back in to retrieve their pets, prescriptions, phones, and other necessities.

“It’s just unbelievable. I didn’t expect it to be this bad,” Ballweg added.

Five roadways were blocked off on Friday night due to water passing over roadways.

“This doesn’t appear deep, and as soon as you get about 10 feet in, it’s over your boots already. It’ll easily swift a small car away,” Fox said as he looked at the rapids going over Manning Street.

Evacuees were taken to the community center in Columbus to hear their options for shelter and to get somewhere warm.

Firefighters don’t know when the Crawfish River is expected to crest, but they’re hoping the water recedes on Saturday.

Hunter Sáenz

Hunter Sáenz

Reporter, WKOW

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