Turn Around Don’t Drown Expands in North Carolina
Figure 1. Michael Moneypenny, service hydrologist from the Raleigh/Durham WFO and Mike Stallings, Division Fire Chief, City of Rocky Mount Fire Department.
Of the 56 deaths from Hurricane Floyd 10 years ago in September of 1999, 48 were due to drowning in inland flooding. Of those, more than half occurred when vehicles were either driven into high water or swept away by rapidly rising waters.
Michael Moneypenny, the Service Hydrologist from the Raleigh/Durham Weather Forecast Office, is working aggressively with local officials to save lives and property the next time it floods in his home state.
“There have been a number of instances where emergency responders had to wade or paddle out to assist stranded motorists to shore and pull the vehicles out,” stated Moneypenny. “We are posting Turn around Don’t Drown (TADD) warning signs at flood prone areas. This street is next to a small feeder tributary of the nearby Tar River and is usually one of the first streets to flood. I contacted county/city Emergency Managers who have a better feel for problem areas. Then I turned over the details of installation to them as they have contacts for necessary collaboration with Department of Transportation offices.”
The TADD signs were installed on River View Road in Rocky Mount, NC, which is adjacent to the Tar River. There will be a Hurricane Floyd high water sign installed on the greenway bridge as well. This road is the first in the city to flood. TADD signs are also being posted in the cities of in Enfield and Goldsboro.
More prominent flooding occurs during and after tropical systems and hurricanes. It is estimated that the water was 12–15 feet deep at that time of Hurricane Floyd. The street floods many times each year from either tropical systems passing through or localized thunderstorms.
Numerous vehicles have become stranded there due to drivers attempting to navigate through the flooded street. Drivers misjudge the water depth and end up calling for help. The City Street Department always places traffic barricades with flashing yellow lights in the street on both sides of the underpass to warn motorists of flood waters, but people still make a judgment call to drive around the barricades.