Meet the team ready to rescue residents from Monterey County floodwaters

The Swift Water Rescue crew is made up of 16 firefighters from across the Bay Area.

Luz Pena Image
Saturday, January 14, 2023
Meet the team ready to rescue residents from Monterey Co. floodwaters
EMBED <>More Videos

As Monterey County continues to be impacted by the storm, Swift Water Rescue crew is ready to rescue residents impacted by the widespread flooding.

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- In Monterey County, there are over 24,000 residents impacted by the widespread flood. We met with the team leading water rescues. The Swift Water Rescue crew is made up of 16 firefighters from across the Bay Area.

Luz Pena: "What is the plan?"

David Watson: "We are going to prepare for today. We are making sure that all our equipment is operationally ready."

Two inflatable boats are key to their operation as water levels continue to rise.

"They are setting up the boat to insure that those boats are ready for the water operations if we need to get into the San Benito River or the Salinas River," said David Watson, Assistant Chief Contra Costa County Fire.

VIDEO: What to do if you're trapped inside a car in floodwaters, according to a fire chief

Monterey County has been severely saturated by intense storms to the point that even when it doesn't rain, floods are still happening.

"The runoff from the mountains into the creeks ends up flowing towards the river and that is why we are seeing a constant rise on the Salinas river," said Matthew Lumadue, Monterey County Fire Prevention Specialist.

Luz Pena: "There was concern that Monterey could become its own island. Is that still a possibility?"

Nicholas Pasculli: "We are cautiously optimistic that that's not going to happen at this time."

SKY7 video shows a levee break along the Salinas River. Turns out, this helped.

VIDEO: Aerial views of Salinas River flooding in Monterey County as levee breaks from overflowing water

"The levee breach took pressure off the river. It flooded a lot of farm land so while it helped up here going up stream into the ocean it certainly didn't help the farmers," said Nicholas Pasculli, Monterey County Chief Information Officer.

We followed the rescue team into this zone.

"We know the area and how deep the water is, and obviously the water has come up a lot more. So we know this is still a viable option," said Anton Chism, Battalion Chief and Rescue Team Manager.

They are looking for strategic places to deploy their boats in case of an emergency.

"We left last night and it was below that fence line. Where those two mark flags are. It was about a foot to two feet below that. This was all dry," said Patrick Sullivan, Captain of Hayward fire and Safety Officer for Task 4.

According to the County's chief information officer, the Salinas River won't begin to recede until Saturday.

The video in the media player above is not related to the current story. The ABC7 News Bay Area 24/7 streaming channel allows you to see news throughout the day.