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Lakes rescue boat deployed to Cedar Rapids

By Staff | Jun 17, 2008

ARNOLDS PARK — Residents and visitors to the area may have noticed an absence as they looked toward the highway 71 trestle bridge and Arnolds Park/Okoboji water rescue hoist. It is because the Arnolds Park/Okoboji Fire and Rescue deployed the Lakes Area Fire and Rescue Boat to the City of Cedar Rapids area in case there was a fire in the hundreds of blocks of under water throughout the city.

The Cedar Rapids Fire Department made the request in the evening of June 13, citing an urgent need for some type of apparatus that could reach affected areas and provide adequate water pumping capabilities to suppress any fire emergency.

After arranging for back-up resources for the Great Lakes and obtaining signatures on a formal written request, the boat was transported to Cedar Rapids around 10:30 a.m. on June 14. Arriving about 4:15 p.m. the boat was assigned to the west side staging area also known as Cedar Rapids Fire Station five.

After making contact at the staging area the three crew members, Assistant Chief Dave Nelson, Lt. Jason Kirschbaum and Captain Mark Petersen were given a tour of the area by boat. Petersen said, “What you see in pictures in the newspaper and on TV is completely different then what you get to see up close.”

The hosts were also affected by the floods at their central station, which houses administration and the fire department’s museum. The water was up to the roof line and the only thing they were able to retrieve was the apparatus.

“They were so busy doing rescues they did not get back to the station in time to clear out their personal belongings or anything from the station,” Petersen said.

After the tour the boat was stationed on an Interstate 380 off-ramp in the event rapid deployment was needed.

A Cedar Rapids firefighter was assigned in addition to the three AP/O crew members to be a guide and assist them in getting to the scene of the emergency for which the boat may be needed.

It was expected the boat would onsite for three to four days until water levels recede. On June 16, after taking measurements and seeing the water was falling at a much faster rate, it was decided the boat was not needed. The AP/O team returned to the Lakes that same day.

Chief Chris Yungbluth commented, “I’m glad we had the opportunity to send some resources elsewhere in the state after all the help we received on the drowning case a few years ago.”

The thoughts and prayers of the AP/O Fire and Rescue go out to residents and responders and hope they are able to stay safe in the many months and years of recovery to come.