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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dealing with Flooded Roads

The torrential rains that struck northern Alabama and Georgia this week have created swollen rivers and streams throughout the area. Some of the deaths that resulted from the floods resulted because the victims didn't appreciate the depth and force of the rushing water. The flooding is causing some very hazardous driving conditions. More than half of flash flood deaths are auto related. Before you go out in these conditions it's a good time to review the hazards of flooded roads and steps you should take to avoid them or, in the worst scenario, to escape from a flooding situation.

Here are some important facts about to remember about flooding:

  • Every flood is dangerous to drivers. Even if the water running across the road appears shallow, what you can't see under the rushing water is the greatest hazard of all. The road could be washed out and the water may be much deeper than you realize. Even if it appears intact, the roadway could collapse under the weight of your vehicle.
  • Less than an inch of water can cause a driver to lose control.
  • As little as six inches of rushing water has enough force to push your car off the road.
  • Your car can float in as little as two feet of water and you could be washed away into a flooded stream or river.
  • In hilly or mountainous areas, flash floods can occur long after the rain has stopped and far away from the site of a rain storm.
  • The force of rushing water and debris can be strong enough to cause bridges to collapse.
  • Summer thunderstorms can dump one to two inches of rain in a very short time.
  • Flood waters can rise at a rapid rate.

What should you do to avoid flooded roadways?

  • If you live in mountainous, hilly, or flood prone areas, pay attention to weather reports. If there are warnings of flooding, take an alternate route if it is available.
  • If the roadway is flooded, even a little, don't attempt to drive through the water. Turn around and take an alternate route.
  • Temporary barriers blocking flooded roadways are placed by emergency personnel for a reason; never drive around them into a flooded area.
  • If you find yourself stalled in rising flood waters, do not attempt to stay with the car. A floating car can be swept into deeper water and can easily roll over. Escape if possible and get to higher ground immediately. Many flood related fatalities occur when people try to stay with the vehicle.
  • If the rushing water is too deep and the current is too strong, you will have to make a judgment call about staying with the vehicle. Turn around before you get into that position.
  • Be especially cautious when driving at night when it is much more difficult to recognize flooding conditions.
  • Remember that emergency personnel will be overwhelmed and may not be able to get to you for some time.

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