Operations suspended at the river
The Incident Team for the recovery of Thomas Hill has suspended operations because of forecast rain and safety concerns.“Some people might ask, ‘Why can we put a man on the moon but we can’t recover a body from the Chattooga River?’ but unfortunately it’s just not that simple,” said Incident Commander Buck Haney. “The Chattooga is wild and scenic – that means it’s free flowing and in its natural condition. Although we have many experts that are helping, we’re always at the mercy of Mother Nature.”According to NOAA’s National Weather Service, the Chattooga watershed will receive more rain today which means river flows likely won’t get to safe operating levels before Thursday or Friday. Combine that with the river’s natural features, and recovery options become restricted.“The steep slopes, large boulders and rocky bottom make any recovery effort challenging,” said Haney. “You take all that rain and the water from the river and squeeze it into a narrow gorge like the area around Sockem-Dog, and our options become more limited.”Additional search and recovery experts have visited the site, as well as a cofferdam professional. In addition, the U.S. Geological Survey provided expertise on mapping the river bottom. The Incident Team will meet in the morning to review input from these additional resources that have joined the effort since last Saturday.