Red Cross, emergency management warn residents of water dangers - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Red Cross, emergency management warn residents of water dangers

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Like most rivers throughout Western Mass, the Westfield River is surging after a week's worth of rain poured over the valley.

"I continue to try and monitor the river levels to try and be as proactive as possible in the event that we do anticipate any flooding," said Westfield's Emergency Management Director Jim Wiggs.

Wiggs has been the Emergency Management director in Westfield since 2008. He's seen the river flood out causing accidents like one that happened in 2011 when a woman underestimated a flooded section of Russell Road.

Wiggs and other disaster relief officials like Red Cross director Rick Lee now want to warn people not to make mistakes like this one.

"A lot of people may not realize that water above your ankles can knock you off your feet," Lee said.

Lee is used to managing disaster. He says people need to be aware of the dangers even minimally flooded roads pose.

"A car driving through no more than two feet of water can be swept away - a 2,000 or 3,000 pound vehicle," Lee said.

In Westfield, Wiggs and first responders are keeping a close eye on roads.

"We do monitor, the police are out driving around, and if they do see anything, they talk with the DPW and put up barricades," Wiggs said.

The rain is supposed to stop this weekend, but both Wiggs and Lee say that people still need to be aware because water levels will still be high.

"Put it in their head to be careful should they come upon flooding in the next few hours or days," Lee said.

"The best thing to do right now is to just stay away or make sure if you are observing the river ... you're doing it at a safe point," Wiggs said.

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