By Beth O’Brien, reporting for Bluebonnet News of Montgomery County
Every day of the year, particularly during times of crisis, police officers risk their lives for the safety of others. During Tropical Storm Imelda, Splendora police officers proved their heroism by rescuing and assisting residents trapped in the rising floodwater.
On Monday, Oct. 21, Splendora City Council members recognized Splendora police officers who acted selflessly during the storm, presenting them with certificates of appreciation.
“They put their lives on the line for the citizens of Splendora, and I just deeply appreciate that,” Splendora Mayor Dorothy Welch said. “They were out there with no equipment or any type of rescue suits of any kind, and went in that neck-deep water and got people out of their homes, and animals also.”
Welch said there were a total of 17 rescues in the city of Splendora during Tropical Storm Imelda.
Splendora Police Chief Wally Wieghat said he appreciates the recognition for his officers.
“I’ve been here a little over three years, and the department has seen tremendous growth. We’ve expanded to include K-9. We’ve got our own drone division. We offer many services that some of the larger departments don’t have,” Wieghat said. “We are out there in the community much more, we’re into social media much more, keeping the public advised of what we do. Of course when the flood situation came up, all the men came in. We brought them in early to make sure that we could handle, sadly, what we summed up to be a pretty serious life-threatening flood situation.”
Chief Wieghat shared information on a rescue in which he was involved during the tropical storm.
“We all came in early, I think I did the first rescue off First Street,” Wieghat said. “I saw a Camaro that the water was just right up to window level, and I thought the car was actually empty, but I pulled my patrol car up to the side, which is a Tahoe, so it was quite a bit higher. I shined the spotlight in there, and there was a lady on the phone with 911 calling for help. I got out of my car and was able to get her out of her car.”
Wieghat said the rest of that day of the storm, his guys were involved in rescues, one after another. Wieghat said most of the 17 rescues his officers were involved in were in one particular area, Pinewood Drive.
“My men showed very good initiative by acquiring a boat because we were requesting assistance from other departments, but everybody was absolutely snowed under, so nobody could break away,” the chief said. “My guys adapted and overcame, and went and acquired a boat from a neighbor’s house, and got out there and literally waded in neck deep water out there, and pulled people out of houses, put them in a boat and pulled them to safety. I am very proud of them.”