By Michael Slother – email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – From July 3rd to July 5th Lubbock was hit with nearly 10 inches of rain, about half the city's typical annual rainfall. More than 300 city employees from various departments worked around the clock to make conditions as safe as possible.
Barricades were set up at nearly 250 locations to close 12 major city streets. As 130 lakes were at or near capacity, several spilled out into the streets near residential areas and around 2,000 sandbags were distributed. 92 motorists were stranded and rescued. For their hard work, they're being honored as Red Cross's Emergency Response Champions. They'll be given the award at a breakfast on Friday at 7.
"It was the 4th of July and a lot of them were planning on being with their families and a lot of times they don't get recognized for the work they do for the citizens of Lubbock and I think it's great," said Emergency Operations Coordinator Lewis Treadwell.
The city has an emergency plan, and it paid off as the torrential rains continued. "Lake levels continued to rise and it became pretty clear it was time to put Lubbock's emergency plan into action and that's exactly what the city of Lubbock did. They executed the plan that they have practiced so many times and they executed it flawlessly," said Bill Curnow with the American Red Cross.
Stuart Walker is with city codes department. He and more than a dozen of his men responded. "We saw houses with water up to the fence when there wasn't even a playa lake nearby," Walker said.
The codes department wasn't the only one to respond. Randy Truesdale with Lubbock Parks and Recreation says he couldn't be more pleased with how his team handled the emergency. "When you call somebody out and its 1 or 2 A.M., and they pick up the phone and are willing to respond and get to the workplace quickly and get equipment together and tools together and call back and say we're ready to go, where do we go?," Truesdale said.
Since the downpour continued through the night, crews were worried about making sure people were awake in case they needed to evacuate. "Everyone's asleep, they may not realize what's going on and they [city employees] were prepared to go around and start knocking door to door," said Treadwell.
Walker says the rain became an obstacle for rescuers flooding streets and roadways. "[There was] lots of running water, lots of rushing water, lots of deep water. Driving our trucks through that water to get to people's houses to deliver the sandbags was at times an adventure."
We asked Treadwell why he thought his crew deserved the award. "They're heroes because they're out there trying to minimize the impact for the citizens of Lubbock for their property. If they had a couple more inches of rain we could have been evacuating houses [and] residential areas." Treadwell continued. "With the work that these people did, they limited property damage and they saved lives."
Walker appreciates the recognition, but says it was a group effort from all the departments in the city. "It's not just my department, the fire department, the police department; the entire city of Lubbock is a team. It's a family," Walker continued. "If it comes down to it, we could have called out every employee who works for the city of Lubbock and everybody would have responded that could have."
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American Red Cross Champions: Honoring Lifesavers of the South Plains
Throughout the South Plains community, ordinary people perform extraordinary acts of courage and selflessness that save lives. The American Red Cross South Plains Regional Chapter will identify and honor these local champions from our community at the Red Cross Champions: Honoring Lifesavers of the South Plains event.