Reminder: Don't Drive and Drown this Month

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Apparently people do very stupid things in March, which is why the month is home to about a dozen different prevention weeks. My favorite thus far is the following pearl I received yesterday from the State Emergency Management Agency.

The department has dubbed March 16-20 as "Turn Around, Don't Drown" week in Missouri. The campaign, according to SEMA, was inspired after a wet March 2008 when many folks misjudged flooded roads and delayed evacuating their homes resulting in an unprecedented number of water rescues.

Among other suggestions, SEMA advises that motorist stuck in water should evacuate their cars "but be careful you don't accidentally step into a flooded ditch along the road!" The agency also warns that if you can't see the road "there may not be a road."

Read the entire hysteric(al) press release after the jump.
 
"Turn Around, Don't Drown!"
Defensive Driving Can Save Your Life
 
The "Turn Around, Don't Drown" is a public awareness campaign designed to increase both driver and citizen awareness of flooding dangers. Scheduled for March 16-20, 2009, it is hoped the campaign will influence how citizens approach flooding in Missouri. During the March 2008 floods, many drivers misjudged flooded roads, and citizens delayed evacuating from their homes. Those actions resulted in an unprecedented number of water rescues and evacuations by several hundred state, local, and swift water rescue emergency responders.  The "Turn Around, Don't Drown!" campaign is a joint effort with SEMA, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri Department of Transportation, and the National Weather Service.
 
"During the March 2008 floods, the Missouri Department of Transportation closed more than 190 state routes. During that same time, members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol and more than 50 Department of Conservation employees and boats, 20 Missouri State Water Patrol officers and boats, more 50 swift water rescue experts from Fire Departments, and the U.S. Coast Guard conducted continuous water rescues," said Paul D. Parmenter, Director of the State Emergency Management Agency. "Those first responders risked their lives to rescue citizens who were caught in the flooded areas. While this is part of their job, it is important that citizens avoid areas prone to flash flooding, so rescuers are not put into unnecessary dangerous situations," he said.
 
The Missouri Department of Transportation urges Motorists to heed barricades and not drive on flooded roads. The Missouri Department of Transportation maintains an updated road conditions map: www.modot.mo.gov,"
 
"Motorists are encouraged to drive attentively during severe weather and heavy rains, especially at night when it is harder to see rising water levels or water over a road.  Never drive through fast-moving waters. Even a small amount of fast-moving water can sweep a slow-moving vehicle off the roadway, and you can't see the possible damage to the pavement under the water. If your vehicle becomes stuck in rising water, get out quickly and move to higher ground. Respect barriers or barricades put in place by MoDOT -- they are there to protect you. Don't go around them," said Colonel James F. Keathley, Superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
 
Tips to Keep Drivers Safe and Things to Remember About Flooding
 
Flood watch
: Flooding is possible. Be alert! Watch for heavy rain over a short period of time and prepare for significant rises of water near ditches, streams, and low water crossings.
 
Flood warning: flooding is occurring or imminent.
 
  • A flash flood poses a major threat to motorists because the water can rise quickly without warning.  Be especially cautious at night, when it is harder to recognize flooding dangers.
  • Six inches of fast moving water can sweep your off your feet. Two feet of water will float your vehicle.
  • Do not ignore barricades - your life, and the lives of your passengers or your family depends on you obeying the closed road signs.
  • There is no guarantee you will be able to drive across a flooded road.  Do not drive across flooded roads. If you cannot see the road because of fast moving water over the road, do not drive into it. There may not be a road.
  • If your car stalls in water, leave it immediately and seek higher ground! BUT, be careful you don't accidentally step into a flooded ditch along the road.
 
Helpful websites:
Missouri's Department of Transportation Road Map: www.modot.mo.gov
SEMA's Spring Severe Weather Campaign: www.sema.dps.mo.gov
NWS Flash Flood Risk Analysis Project:  http://www.crh.noaa.gov/sgf/?n=floodawarenessweek
 
 

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