Guest commentary: Turn around, don't drown
By: From BJ Kohlstedt, Lake County Emergency Management Director, Lake County News Chronicle
The severe flooding of last June, and our long cold snowy April, should remind us that flooding might be a part of our spring transition. Although Lake County has no major flood plains, our rivers, streams and culverts can flash flood during winter snowmelt or heavy rains, making driving across flooded roads our greatest flood danger.
More than half of all people killed in floods are in vehicles. They make a poor decision to drive across moving water on a road, because the vehicle in front of them makes it or because they think the water doesn’t look too deep.
It only takes 18 inches of water to float a car or SUV. Once your vehicle is floating; the water will easily push it sideways. Most vehicles then tend to roll over, trapping those inside and washing them downstream. Even still water sitting on a roadway can soften the roadbed, making it more vulnerable to be washed out when the water rises enough to start flowing across it.
Driving over a road with water flowing over it is unpredictable at best. And driving around barriers blocking a flooded road may cost you your car or your life.
If a rainy day this spring finds you sitting in your vehicle on a flooded roadway, considering whether to drive across it, just stop and repeat this to yourself a few times: “Turn around, don’t drown.”