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First Responders rescue homeowners during mandatory evacuation

“I’m guessing 20... 25 people in homes right now. Some of them still don’t want to leave.” James Jonatzke, the Fire Chief with Royalton Twp. Fire Dept.

The U.S. Coast Guard and first responders continue to battle rising river levels in a Royalton Township neighborhood. A mandatory evacuation went into effect Thursday for hundreds of homeowners along the river after flooding reached as high as fences in some areas, but it wasn’t like this Wednesday afternoon.

“So we spent all yesterday afternoon going house to house and I think we had about 50% of the people leave and 50% of the people stayed. And that was in water, we were standing in water yesterday,” said Jonatzke.

Some of those homeowners who stayed back, woke up around 8:00 a.m. Thursday morning to those high level floods. The Royalton Township Fire Department responded to a call after higher levels of flooding had homeowners living near the St. Joseph River trapped inside their homes.

“We were called down here by a person that felt trapped in their home and so now we’re down here rescuing people out of homes.” Jonatzke

Now, approximately 75 or so homes are either under water or could soon be.

ABC 57’s Andrea Alvarez asked Chief Jonatzke if the level of the water was a lot worse Thursday than it was on Wednesday…

“Considerably worse today than yesterday, yes,” said Jonatzke.

Fire crews say there’s not much neighbors can do until the flooding goes down.

“It’s going to make these homes, for the most part, uninhabitable right now without gas or electric. I implore people not to come down here and try to help a loved one or relative or anything. That’s what the rescuers are here for,” said Jonatzke.

The electric and gas was shut off in the area around noon Thursday, making it so that all residents living in that area evacuate and find shelter elsewhere until further notice.

All residents were completely evacuated from their homes in that area of the river as of about 6 pm Thursday.

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