MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - When 6 to 10 feet of floodwater swamped parts of Manhattan, first responders answered the call to help.
“We quickly transitioned from notifications to evacuations,” Micah Hydeman, Captain, Manhattan Fire Department, said. “That was the fastest moving water I’ve ever seen.”
Initial preparations for the incoming weather began at 3:30 a.m.. From there, the situation developed rapidly.
“Within about an hour’s time, it really escalated. Travis Schulte, game warden for Pottawatomie County, said. “It went from standby, to we need boats and manpower here now.”
For some, these heroic operations were done with little sleep.
“I actually work night shift, and I was on the night before. I got home about 7 a.m., went to bed around 7:15, and my phone rang at 8:12,” Tyler Garver, sergeant for the Pottawattamie County Sherriff’s Office, said. “And I think I got home at 8 p.m. that afternoon. So it was a very long day for me, almost 24 hours.”
The operations weren’t just physically taxing. Manhattan Fire personnel also were coping with the passing of one of their own. Captain Wayne Braun lost his battle with cancer just over a week earlier.
“The day started actually like with Captain Braun’s passing, and so we had him come through the city and we saw him off to the funeral home, Drew Taylor, Manhattan Fire Department, said. “Captain Braun was heavily involved in rescue, and so it was kind of ironic that we just sent him off, then we were going to have one of the more significant rescues within Manhattan’s history.”
Despite the physical and emotional exhaustion, first responders successfully rescued 152 people and 24 pets with no major injuries.
“That number of people being affected on that day in those environments and no one coming out in the hospital is remarkable.” Hydeman said.
The events left lasting lessons, even for a ten-year veteran like Cole Minton.
“Losing Captain Braun, he was my captain for a couple years, and then with the memorial of 9/11 and the events on Labor Day in Manhattan, it has been quite a week emotionally,” Minton, Manhattan Fire Department, said. “But I like to take solace in the fact that sacrifice and the grief that kind of comes with this last week gives more meaning to the good moments that you have, and that’s what I think this week has been mainly about.”