published: 3 Sep 2014
by: Meghan Matthews
WATERLOO, Neb. – In the middle of Sunday’s storm firefighters were called to another river rescue along the Elkhorn.
The Waterloo, Valley and Bennington firefighters who responded did not get paid to save lives, it’s all volunteer, but the equipment they use costs millions of dollars.
“We’ve got an engine, we’ve got a squad, we’ve got an air-boat.”
The air-boat Waterloo launches is the only one of its kind in the state and it’s now out of commission.
“A bolt came loose off the fly wheel, it went through the final drive.”
The $150,000, aluminum air-boat was damaged during the search for eight lost tubers. Waterloo’s Rescue Lieutenant Dale Stork said it’ll cost four thousand dollars to fix.
“It’s detrimental to our department to all the departments to go out all the time and go looking for these people when common sense should tell them, they shouldn’t even be out there.”
Rich Tesar with the Papio-Missouri River NRD said high water in the Elkhorn makes for dangerous conditions.
“A lot of debris starts coming down including whole trees.”
That’s why the department closed all public access this Labor Day weekend.
“In tubes, in tanks or boats, canoes, kayaks, they are subject to having these objects strike them and we can have a catastrophic situation where we have a drowning.”
From private property tubers got into the Elkhorn on Sunday. This time no injuries, but rescue crews say it threw thousands of dollars down the river.
Waterloo fire said more than one million dollars leaves the station for any river rescue call. It costs about $250 to run the air-boat for one hour.
Money that comes from funds and taxpayers is almost depleted.
“The money’s gonna have to come from some place, it just doesn’t grow on trees.”
Some fire departments want the outfitters who put the tubers into the water to foot the bill for some of the river rescues. The Waterloo fire department says they’re looking into it.