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Flash flooding claims vehicle, woman rescued

The U.S. Coast Guard has no presence in Brookhaven, but that’sjust fine – the fire department has experience performing rescuesat sea.

That experience came Tuesday night, when flash flooding from aseries of thunderstorms blurred the lines between street andshoulder, causing 67-year-old Gwendolyn Jeffries, of Brookhaven, todrive into a flooding ditch at the intersection of Brookhaven andCongress streets just off Brookway Boulevard. The New ProspectBaptist Church piano player found herself sideways inside astranded vehicle quickly filling with chilly water, and was rescuedfrom the flood by the Brookhaven Fire Department.

“I was very happy to see them,” Jeffries said.

Jeffries said so much water had already spilled over into theintersection that she could not see the ditch when she made theturn onto Brookhaven Street. She turned too sharp and wentnose-first into the ditch, pinning the driver’s side of the carunderwater.

“I tried not to panic. What scared me was when the water startedcoming in,” Jeffries said. “I knew (the car) wouldn’t go anyfurther down, but the water kept rising.”

Jeffries said the contents of her purse were floating aroundinside the car, but she managed to keep her phone dry. Police andfirefighters showed up quickly after the call and pulled her tosafety through the passenger door.

“I didn’t move, I just stayed in the seat hoping someone wouldcome by,” she said. “It was a strange thing, all these people goingby and not a soul stopped to help.”

Jeffries was uninjured in the ordeal, but the car is likely donefor.

“I don’t know what kind of condition my car is in. It wouldn’tstart,” she said.

BFD Shift Capt. Furman Freeman said the fire department hadlittle experience with rescues on the high seas before Jeffries’accident.

“That was the first time,” he said. “But we got her out. She waskind of scared, but she was fine.”

Jeffries’ flooding accident appears to be the only troublestirred up in Lincoln County Tuesday night by a 1,500-mile long lowpressure system that has warranted national attention as it dropsrain and snow on nearly every state.

Despite heavy rainfall and flash flooding in the usual floodprone spots, city and county emergency officials reported nocomplaints Wednesday morning.