National Weather Service “When Flooded Turn Around Don’t Drown” Motorist Alert Signage
Russell County, VA. Tornadoes, thunderstorms, and flash floods! Oh my! That is something Russell County has been hearing a lot of lately with four confirmed tornadoes this year and a flash flood that occurred on June 17, 2009. The National Weather Service (NWS), Morristown, TN, has partnered with Russell County for the installation of “When Flooded Turn Around Don’t Drown” signage on both sides of a high impact low water crossing in Russell County. The signs will be installed as a result of a Flash Flood Risk Analysis program at the Russell County Emergency Management Office in coordination with the Lebanon Residency of the Virginia Department of Transportation. Through the efforts of Mr. Troutman, Russell County has received the first two signs in Virginia being distributed nationally through the National Weather Service's "Turn Around, Don't Drown" campaign. The signs - which warn drivers to "Turn Around, Don't Drown" - will be permanently installed on a Russell County road that frequently floods. Also, a local grant application was completed to purchase additional signs that can be permanently installed or temporarily placed in trouble spots in the County.
|Intersection of Maple Gap Road and Clarks Valley Road during the recent flash flood event on June 17, 2009.
||Tim Troutman, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, National Weather Service, Morristown, TN, on left, presents two “When Flooded Turn Around Don’t Drown” signs to Jess Powers, Russell County Emergency Coordinator.
Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard. Why? The main reason is people underestimate the force and power of water. Except for heat related fatalities, more deaths occur from flooding than any other hazard. Why? Most people fail to realize the power of water. For example, six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock you off your feet. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded. The Centers for Disease Control report more than half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood waters. Most cars can be swept away in just 18 to 24 inches of moving water. With trucks and SUVs having only an additional six to 12 inches of clearance before they, too, can become buoyant. A vehicle swept downstream will often roll to one side or flip over, giving the driver and passengers only a few seconds to escape.
The purpose of the Flash Flood Risk Analysis Project is three-fold:
- Incorporate detailed physiographic, socio-economic and historical flood data that will lead to more detailed and accurate flash flood warnings, thus leading to more effective response by those in harm’s way.
- Equip Emergency Management, in coordination with National Weather Service warning preparedness activities, to perform more effective flood risk assessment and mitigation prior to flooding and response efforts during and after a flash flood.
- Provide the public and other agencies with more effective flash flood warnings; investigate development of flood sensors and develop safety campaigns for the protection of life and property.
Whether you are driving or walking, if you come to a flooded road, Turn Around Don't Drown®. You will not know the depth of the water nor will you know the condition of the road under the water.
Follow these safety rules:
- Monitor the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Radio, or your favorite news source for vital weather related information.
- If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, washes, etc.
- Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Turn Around Don't Drown®!
- Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. NEVER drive through flooded roadways. Turn Around Don't Drown®, if your vehicle is suddenly caught in rising water, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
- Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
Most flash floods are caused by slow moving thunderstorms, thunderstorms that move repeatedly over the same area or heavy rains from tropical storms and hurricanes. These floods can develop within minutes or hours depending on the intensity and duration of the rain, the topography, soil conditions, and ground cover. Flash floods can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings and bridges, and scour out new channels. Rapidly rising water can reach heights of 30 feet or more. Furthermore, flash flood-producing rains can also trigger catastrophic mud slides. Occasionally, floating debris can accumulate at a natural or man-made obstruction and restrict the flow of water. Water held back by the debris dam can cause flooding upstream. Subsequent flash flooding can occur downstream if the obstruction should suddenly release.
If you have any questions concerning regarding the “Turn Around Don’t Drown” campaign, please call Jess Powers at (276) 889-8247, or Naomi Honaker at (276) 889-8146.