SIOUX CITY | Siouxland Dive Rescue recently received an $8,600 grant to buy diving masks and communication equipment. Now, they need more people to use them.
“What we really need right now, worse than anything, is divers,” said Mike McClennen, the nonprofit’s training and operations officer.
The group has been searching the tri-state area’s murky waters since the 1980s. Often in near-darkness – and with aging equipment -- divers feel through the muddy rivers and lakes for drowning victims, evidence or even submerged vehicles.
Missouri River Historical Development buoyed the group’s efforts through the $8,669 grant for diving masks and communication equipment. The donation was among $230,000 in gaming profits doled out Wednesday by the nonprofit, which holds the Argosy Casino’s gambling license.
The team, which has eight active certified divers, could always use more people in the water, McClennen said.
Anyone who wants to dive for the team must be a certified diver with the skills of a recreational scuba diving. Those who don’t have that experience could still serve a vital, land-based purpose on the team, he said.
“For every diver that’s in the water, you need about three people on the shore,” McClennen said.
Communication with between divers and volunteers on land is essential to keeping the divers safe, said Lorraine Groves, dive team president.
The team responds to approximately five drawings a year in 11 counties in all three Siouxland states, she said, in rivers and lakes dark with sediment and choked with debris.
“They can be diving right into a big wad of barbed wire and not even realize it, because they can’t see it,” Groves said.
The MRHD grant helped, but McClennen and Groves said the team, which runs on donations and fundraisers, could always use more money to upgrade and repair equipment.
The team currently has one 31-year-old boat – with a motor circa 1978. It also needs more dry suits to protect divers from prolonged exposure to farm chemicals and vehicle fluids in the water.