THURMONT, Md. — A driver and 10 students were quickly rescued from a school bus that was stuck on a bridge in Frederick County near Thurmont due to flooding, according to the Frederick County Sheriff's Office (FCSO).
School buses were rerouted back to schools after multiple rescues had officials in the county scrambling to help people, said FCSO. It's part of measures being taken to not create more possible rescue situations.
There have been 17 water rescues in Frederick County due to Wednesday's weather, according to county officials. There are also more than 80 road closures, added County EMS officials.
All the students and the driver are safe after the bus became stuck in fast-rising floodwaters when the driver tried to cross a bridge, said the sheriff's office.
Students have since been reunited with their families, according to FCSO.
FCSO said it had rescue crews near trouble spots for flooding in the county, which is why rescuers were so close to this specific bridge and were able to act quickly to help the people on the school bus. FCSO added that even before rescue crews arrived, community members and good Samaritans were working to get the students off the bus.
The Frederick County Fire Department said there were two additional dispatches for incidents involving buses Wednesday, but there was no immediate danger and fire crews were not needed to help.
In a statement Wednesday night, the school district apologized for the situation, saying their decision to remain open for the full day despite weather reports led to last-minute changes for families, along with stress and anxiety for many.
"I am deeply sorry," said Superintendent Terry Alban. "My first priority is to keep students and staff safe. I am grateful that everyone was able to get safely to their homes."
Alban also thanked first responders and bus drivers and assistants "who demonstrated what incredible professionals they are."
Read the school district's full statement below:
To the FCPS Community:
I hope my message to you this evening finds you and your loved ones well and safe. I wanted to update the community regarding this afternoon’s dismissal from schools.
As we mentioned in a message to our community yesterday, we were aware that the remnants of Hurricane Ida would bring rain to our community over an extended period of time. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, we closely monitored weather and road conditions throughout the county, just as we would with any other inclement weather situation. We also closely monitored the forecast.
Initial school dismissals proceeded normally until drivers were met with unexpectedly hazardous road conditions. As middle and some elementary school buses were beginning their routes, very heavy rain overtook our entire county. The sudden hazardous road conditions led to many challenges.
The Frederick County Sheriff's Department informed us that buses needed to be removed from the roads, leading many elementary school buses to return back to schools where our school administrators ensured that students were able to safely unite with families. One bus encountered high water in the Thurmont area, leading to a response by fire and rescue crews. All students and one driver on this bus were safely evacuated and united with their families.
Our decision to remain open for a full day led to last-minute changes for families, along with stress and anxiety for many. For that, I am deeply sorry. My first priority is to keep students and staff safe. I am grateful that everyone was able to get safely to their homes.
I want to thank the many staff members who stayed at school working diligently to ensure our students were cared for while waiting for their families. I also want to thank our bus drivers and bus assistants who demonstrated what incredible professionals they are. Finally, I am grateful to our law enforcement and first responders who supported us during the flash flooding this afternoon.
Frederick County Public Schools will be closed Thursday, September 2, as clean-up from flooding continues.