MERIDIANVILE, Ala. — It’s that time of year. More people are breaking out the kayaks for a day of floating. The Flint River is a popular spot and recently, several location markers along the Flint have been stolen and vandalized.
The river markers are blue and usually have a number/letter pairing so when an emergency happens, someone can call 911 and give near-exact locations for the rescue squad.
“If you did drown or if you get bit by a snake, or if they cut themselves and they need immediate medical care, that’s the difference between us having to look a mile or too,” said Zachary Trulson, the President of Moores Mill Volunteer Fire and Rescue.
Between the Oscar Patterson Bridge and Mt. Carmel Farmers Crossing, there should be a sign every 500 ft. However, several have disappeared, have graffiti on them or have bullet holes through them. It’s possible some may have been swept away during recent floods.
“Our volunteers have put in countless hours hanging those signs up to make sure we can help you when it’s an emergency. When they are damaged like that it takes even more hours and time. We don’t even have enough volunteers,” stressed Trulson.
From a safety standpoint, the timing of the missing signs isn’t good. After heavy summer rain, more people tend to float the Flint.
“People try to start doing crazy things like getting into the water while it’s flooded. People need to understand it’s not necessarily the stuff on top of the water that you can see. It’s the stuff underneath the water,” said Trulson.
Moores Mill Volunteer Fire & Rescue handles a majority of water-related 911 calls north of Huntsville. Technically, the Flint falls under Huntsville, but Moores Mill is closer and is equipped to handle various water rescues. Because the department is volunteer-based, they raised money for the signs. They also got money from local political representatives.
It cost several thousand dollars to put up the signs.
After a story with News 19 about a year ago, several fire departments reached out to Moores Mill to get a better idea of how the signs along the Flint helped rescue efforts.
“There are several places throughout the country that this is a new concept to them,” said Trulson.
Moores Mill Volunteer Fire & Rescue hopes that if more people understand the importance of the river markers, people will simply leave the signs alone and allow them to serve their designated purpose.