02/23/11: Turn Around Don`t Drown

Turn Around, Don’t Drown
Submitted by BJ Kohlstedt, Lake County Emergency Management Director
Last week we got a surprising reminder that spring will indeed come again this year.
Minnesotans are already planning for another big flood year. The good news is that Lake
County has no flood plains. The bad news is that means our rivers and streams can flash flood
during winter snowmelt or heavy rains, making driving across flooded roads our greatest flood
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 lift your 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.
According to Lake County Highway Engineer, Al
Goodman, “One of our biggest problems is water
oozing out of the woods and freezing in our
roadside ditches, reducing capacity and plugging
up our culverts.” 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.
This spring, while you are sitting in your vehicle
considering whether to drive across a road that
has water flowing over it, stop and repeat this a
few times to yourself: “Turn around, don’t drown.”