CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The U.S. Whitewater Center was used for flood safety training Tuesday as two dozen workers from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services jumped into the rapids at the center.
The workers were the latest to be trained by the Charlotte Fire Department’s swift water rescue team at the facility, which provides rescuers with a controlled setting within which to train.
“Water's not brown. We know exactly how fast it’s flowing. We have all of its safety systems in place,” said Tim Rogers, CFD Battalion Chief.
Still, Rogers says the center provides a real life scare for many of the participants.
“As controlled as everything is, we see panic. And we see panic in their face, and they forget everything we've told them. So yeah, we see it visually, and we see it in their actions,” he said.
Storm Water Services workers rarely find themselves in floodwaters. Instead, they often work before or after waters rise. Tuesday’s exercise, though, offers them a better understanding of being in the middle of floodwaters.
“We work with flood victims and contractors when they're building houses around a creek,” said Melonee Brock, a 12 year veteran of the department.
After completing some of the exercises in the water, Brock said the strength of the water gave her a new appreciation.
“You don't realize how strong the water current is until you're in it,” she said.
Aside from Tuesday’s drill, similar training exercises happen throughout the year at the U.S. Whitewater Center, including sessions for the U.S. Special Operation Forces and the U.S. National Guard.