Single fallen tree contributes to 10 water rescues on Flint River

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - The chief of Moores Mill Volunteer Fire Department says he knows of 10 different rescues from a single tree laying across the Flint River.

Here's what we know about the tree.

Kayaker Kenneth Greenleaf travels the river all the time. He tells us, "It's a poplar tree. It's about maybe two-foot in diameter."

Madison County Commissioner Roger Jones points it out on a map, "It's just north of Wess Taylor [Road]."

It's actually Commissioner Eddie Sisk trying to get rid of the tree down in the river, but fellow commissioner Roger Jones tells us Sisk has obstacles of his own, saying, "It's a little bit complicated. If it was on the side of the road it would be real easy, but he's got to figure out the best way to get into it."

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The high water on the Flint River means it's harder to see potential dangers like downed trees.

Huntsville-Madison County Rescue Squad Deputy Director Chad Tillman explains why that's troubling.

"In swift water, we call this a strainer. You have the tree that's in the water hanging across the water, which is slowing the water. And you have branches that are hanging down. Even though you see current flowing up over the top, it wants to take canoes, kayaks and things underneath."

If you get stuck, it could kill you.

"It's very dangerous, if you get your feed caught underneath the tree trunk, you fall out, you will be wrapped around the tree and you will drown," Greenleaf adds.

That's why the tree has to go.  Thankfully, none of the water rescues have created serious health issues so far. Officials want to make sure it stays that way.

Commissioner Sisk says crews can get the tree out, but they need to wait for the water to go down to do it safely.  A local kayaking group told us the same thing. Both expected the tree to be gone by the weekend, as long as the weather cooperates.

We'll keep you posted on efforts to get this water hazard out of the way.