Water rescues at Bennett Spring


Emergency agencies rescued 14 people who were staying at cabins at Bennett Spring State Park and became trapped by rising flood waters on May 5.

“Everyone came together for a successful evacuation,” said Laclede County Office of Emergency Management Director Randy Rowe. “I want to thank everyone involved for making this a success.”

According to Rowe, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Missouri State Park Rangers helped with rescuing the stranded campers. The 14 people had to be taken by boat as the road leading into the spring cabin area was completely covered in water. Highway Patrol aided in the rescue, pulling boats filled with stranded campers through knee deep water in an area that is usually filled with parked cars and anglers. Rowe said the campers hailed from all over the county, including families and individuals from Iowa, New York, Illinois and Northern Missouri. 

No one was hurt during the rescue mission. Rowe reported that one elderly woman was treated for anxiety related issues and released at the scene. 

Bennett Spring State Park Natural Resource Manager Gabriel DuMond acted as the on-scene commander for the evacuation. The rescue took about two hours. 

OEM and Mercy Hospital Lebanon was on scene to transport displaced campers to new places to stay until the water recedes and they can return to the cabins to get their belongings and vehicles. 

The Lebanon Fire Department brought a tanker to the evacuation in case the truck’s long ladder was needed to help. However, it was not used during the evacuation.

Some campers opted not to evacuate. According to DuMond, two families, comprising about 10 people, decided to stay and shelter in place. DuMond explained that it wasn’t uncommon during flooding for campers to stay, especially those in the cabins located higher up from the spring.

Rowe had no idea how long it would take for the water to recede and the park to open up fully.

“The water will go down eventually, but not nearly as quickly as it came up,” he said.

The Missouri Department of Conservation reported Thursday that there were numerous water rescues across the southwest portion of the state in a matter of just a few hours. The department reminded motorists to avoid driving into flood waters.

“Plan extra time to reach your destination as you may have to find alternate routes. If you encounter flooded roads, turn around, don’t drown,” the department wrote in a social media post.


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