Bellevue Officials Say Hovercraft Needed To Help With Water Rescues

First responders in Bellevue say the historic flooding has raised a big concern about their efforts to conduct water rescues.

Bellevue Battalion Fire Chief Joe Gibilisco says efforts to get people out of their flooded homes became very difficult because the city only has flat bottom boats, which they were not able to use in the several feet deep flood waters.

He says things would have been much easier with a hovercraft. Gibilisco says one rescue in particular is reason enough to have such a vehicle.

When an 85-year-old man had to be rescued from his Sands Trailer Park residence in Bellevue last week, firefighters were forced to use a private citizen’s paddle boat to complete the 25-minute rescue.

"Our firefighters rescued an 85 year old man out of Sands Trailer Court. The only things they had was a private citizen's paddle boat and a couple of oars," Gibilisco says. It took 25 minutes to complete the rescue.

With a Hovercraft, he says first responders can quickly conduct rescues of multiple victims in swift water, lakes, rivers and on ice. It would be also be available to other communities and agencies as needed.

The Bellevue Public Safety Foundation plans to pay for the Hovercraft through fund-raisers and donations from the public and businesses. The goal is $60,000.

Donations can be made by mail, in person or online: Checks can be mailed to the Bellevue Public Safety Foundation at 505 Cornhusker Road, P.O. Box 259, Bellevue, Nebraska 68005. Donations can be dropped off at the District 1 Fire Station at 211 West 22nd Ave. in Old Towne.

Online donations can be made via GoFundMe at "Bellevue Public Safety Foundation: Hovercraft."

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