As we are sure you’re aware, the St. Louis area was hit with several inches of rain over the past few days. The influx of precipitation has caused severe flash flooding across the state and into Illinois. Many people are unaware just how dangerous flash floods can be. The flash floods of December 2015 caused at least 8 deaths in Missouri, as well as several people sustaining serious injury. Below is MoDot’s Traveler Information Map at 3 p.m. Most of those red dots are road closures due to flash flooding.
It’s a fact that flash flooding causes more deaths per year than ANY other thunderstorm related hazard (including tornadoes). Over one half of deaths caused by flash flooding are due to people driving their vehicles into flood waters. Here are some injury facts to consider when you encounter flood waters in your area:
- 6″ of water can knock over an adult walking on foot
- 12″ of water can carry away a small vehicle
- 2′ of water can carry away almost any other vehicle, including large SUVs and trucks
When you consider whether you should drive across a flooded roadway, remember this: A vehicle only weights about 3,000 lbs. Aircrafts also float, which weight around 97,000 tons!
Other flooding facts to keep you free of injury and death:
- Tires act as a flotation device – when you drive on flooded roadways, you will likely float downstream
- When walking in flood waters, you could be even more susceptible to injury or death. You cannot be sure of underwater dangers such as culverts and debris. See how this South Carolina woman suffered serious injury while walking in flood waters.
- Make sure children stay away from high waters. They can be tempted to get in and play, which could cause death or near drowning.
- NEVER drive over flooded road ways. You could be driving into a washed out road which will engulf your vehicle. Check out the video below showing a car nearly avoiding a tragedy.
If you find yourself caught in rising flood water, seek higher ground immediately and call 911. Most flood-prone areas have boats that will assist you in getting to a safe area. Make sure you call your local fire and police departments if you suspect you will be caught in flood waters.
Conditions can worsen at night when you cannot see the dangers easily. As a rule of thumb, never drive through standing water, day or night!