Thunderstorms in metro Atlanta Saturday left several people stranded in the Chattahoochee River and led to a rescue effort by the Gwinnett and Johns Creek Fire Departments.
Firefighters responded at about 4:48 p.m. to a report of multiple people stranded on the Chattahoochee River at Abbotts Bridge in Duluth. The group was part of a tubing company tour that was spending an afternoon on the river. The group became stranded when a strong thunderstorm moved through the area and caused river conditions to become turbulent.
Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services and Johns Creek Fire Department responded due to the location on the river and the report of multiple patrons needing help. Both department’s converged on the river and began removing people from the water and onto the riverbank.
First arriving crews positioned their equipment on Abbotts Bridge and began rescue operations directly under the bridge. There was a large group of people that had already exited the water and were taking shelter under the bridge from the storm.
Crews were under the bridge at the height of the storm and were getting people out of the water and onto the riverbank. The imminent threat posed by the lightning and wind made it impossible for the large group of people to stay under the bridge. Firefighters were able to redirect the group to go to a staging hut belonging to the river tubing company. The hut was accessible by foot and was located a short distance away from the takeout point at Abbotts Bridge.
During the two-hour incident, a total of 111 people were assisted to safety until the storm subsided.
According to firefighters, a local fisherman also assisted a number of people to safety during the incident. The majority of people were able to walk to safety and there were no injuries or medical complaints.
Firefighters and swiftwater rescue technicians from both departments worked in unison to safely remove and shelter the large group of people.
Rivergoers are encouraged to stay weather aware and to avoid being on the river during a strong thunderstorm.