Thursday, July 6, 2017

Dangers of Flash Flooding

Wednesday evening we received a report of a vehicle that had gotten stuck in rushing flood water while trying to cross of a ford in White Pines Forest State Park.  Heavy rain producing thunderstorms occurred Wednesday afternoon and evening causing localized flooding - with Ogle County being one of those locations.

Everyone in the vehicle was okay, but it took first responders a little more time to rescue those who were trapped because of how fast the water was rushing.  Those who live in that area and are familiar with White Pines Forest State Park say there is always a little water in the ford, but when heavy rain occurs it typically floods.   Park Rangers usually barricade those areas off to the public when that happens, but due to the fast nature of the flooding they didn't have time Wednesday. 

That's why it's so important to never underestimate the power of water.  We typically don't think of flash flooding when severe weather occurs.  And other than heat related fatalities, flash floods kill more people each year in the United States than tornadoes.  Let that sink in for a little bit.

How many times have you come across a flooded roadway and said to yourself, 'I can cross that.  It doesn't look that deep'?  It's a story we hear too often when flash flooding occurs.  People believe they can drive their car through a flooded roadway, only to have their car stall due to the high level of water.  Once the car stalls they then become sitting ducks, literally.  Or, how many times have you seen a video of a vehicle crossing a flooded road only to then watch as the car is swept downstream.  It's a dangerous situation that could have been completely avoided.  Not only are you putting yourself and those in the vehicle with you in danger, but the first responders who then have to try and rescue you from the flood water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, over half of flood related fatalities are due to people driving their vehicle through flood water.  It only takes six inches of rushing water to knock over a grown human being.  One foot of rushing water can lift up and carry away a small vehicle and just two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles.  A simple phrase to remember, 'Turn Around, Don't Drown'.  Cheesy, perhaps.  But it gets the point across.  Never, ever attempt to drive your vehicle over a road that has water over of it.  Even if it's a road you've crossed every single day for the past 10 years.  There is no way of telling if the road underneath has been washed away, if there is debris in the road or how fast or deep the water may really be.

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