East Ridge firefighters had to get out their flat bottom boat Thursday morning to rescue a homeless man who was trapped in the middle of rising waters of West Chickamauga Creek.
According to Fire Chief Mike Williams, a homeless man and his wife were under the Jack Sharp Memorial bridge on Ringgold Road when flash flood conditions swept the 57 year-old man about 300 yards downstream. His wife was able to climb up to higher ground and escape the water but he was not as fortunate.
Officials said an East Ridge police officer responded first to the scene and called firefighters for help. ERFD scrambled its swift water rescue team which brought a flat bottom boat and an inflatable raft. As a precaution, the Hamilton County STARS water rescue squad was called in as backup in case the ERFD team encountered trouble.
The man, who was soaked up to his knees was clinging to a tree, knee deep in water when rescuers reached him at about 11:30 a.m. He was safely brought to the bank where he was reunited with his wife.
The man was taken to Parkridge East Hospital, Chief Williams said. He was apparently suffering from a mild case of hypothermia, Chief Williams said.
“Swift water is not what you want to encounter,” Chief Williams said. “In a flash-flood situation the water can change rapidly.
“Our guys came up with a game plan and executed it,” he said.