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Local man explains how he tried to rescue passengers in deadly Arab flooding

White van swept away in Arab flood waters.
White van swept away in Arab flood waters.(waff)
Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 10:22 PM CDT
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ARAB, Ala. (WAFF) - The flash flooding in Marshall County was nothing short of fast and furious on Wednesday night.

Two people died, a four-year-old and 18-year-old Stormy Hernandez of Guntersville. Hernandez drowned on Friendship Road, and the child died on Haynes Road. Russ Elrod was driving on Haynes Road and saw it flood.

He parked his vehicle in the middle of the road to try and stop other drivers from using it. He also called 911 to report the flooding.

While he was parked, a white van went around him and was swept off into a stream. When fire crews arrived, they rescued a young woman and boy who were on top of the van.

Seconds later, it was swept away with a 4-year-old girl trapped inside. Her body was found hours later.

Russ Elrod said he tried to jump in to help too, but it was too late.

“Eventually, we couldn’t see any more lights, but we could hear the lady calling for help, and I made it to get to them, but the water was so swift. So, I got out and went up to one of the houses that had a pool and got a float and went back out and tried to get as close to them as I could, but the current was too bad it started to pull me down the creek,” said Elrod.

Fred Sutherland owns a home on Haynes Road where the incident happened. He said flooding on Haynes Road has been a problem for years.

Sutherland said he’s reported it to the city multiple times and that now, it is time for a fix.

“I think the problem is if they clean this ditch out and the two great big logs that fell down and across this creek bed, it would help. Right now, it’s damning it up, and it just backs the water up. I don’t know the method they use to clean it out, but that would help a whole lot,” said Sutherland.

WAFF 48 talked to Mayor Bob Joslin, and he said city leaders are currently assessing the roads and are working on a plan to fix drainage problems.

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