Auto Safety: Driving Through Flooded Streets. Don't!

Just Six Inches of Water.........


Sudden flash floods can leave motorist in a quandary as to whether to drive through the water or turn around. That's what the campaign by the NOAA is all about. The campaign is called "Turn Around,Don't Drown!" The campaign hopes to educate drivers on the dangers of driving through water,even if only a few inches.

Statistics show that more people die in flood related deaths than any other weather condition in the United States,according to the NOAA'S campaign website. In some cases it was unavoidable, but in others people simply underestimated the gravity of the situation. Because so many people do not realize the power of water , they do not recognize the danger that they are in until the fast moving force of the water carries them or their vehicle with it.

Just six inches of water can cause an adult to loose footing and knock them down! With only two feet of water a vehicle can be carried away!

WHAT FOLLOWS BELOW IS THE TRUE STORY OF ONE DARK AND STORMY OCTOBER NIGHT WHEN I FOOLISHLY DID NOT TURN AROUND ON FLOODED ROADS.

Heavy Rains and Floods

Rain pelted loudly on the windows and tin roof of the dreary office as I gathered my purse and briefcase preparing to leave. It had rained all that brisk October day in a fervent , pounding assault on cars and streets. A coworker with her umbrella dangling from her wrist stopped by and told me the parking lot was flooded .As she left,she worriedly added that water was about to get in some of the cars and begged me to hurry. I agreed and quickly started gathering work to take home.

Brrr.I knew the lawn in front of the building would be flooded as it had been many times before. I was dreading wading through the cold water to get to my car, which was parked about thirty feet from the door. As I looked at the parking lot, I tried to stay calm. I had never driven in water that deep.The street was not really flooded, but it was about to be.I had to get my car out of the lot!

Though it was only 4:00 the street lights were on, and still the parking lot was dark as the lights were about another thirty feet from my car.I forced myself to wade across the cold flooded lot, forgetting to hold up my long suede coat which quickly soaked up the cold muddy water.

Arriving at my car,I fumbled in my damp purse for my keys. Drat. Why didn't I get them out before I left the building."Idiot," my thoughts accused. Finally finding my keys, I slipped into the car and drug the hem of my sopping wet coat into the car.As I put my keys into the ignition, a small tiny voice in my head cried,"No......this dangerous!" I shook off the feeling , and gazed at cars driving slowly by the parking lot."They're doing it..It'll be okay. All I need is to drive just a short way, and I will be safely on the street."

I gripped the wheel fearfully as I drove cautiously to the street exit, ridiculing my own self for the fear of driving out of a parking lot,for goodness sake. Easing across the lot to the exit, I began to calm down as the part of the lot nearest the street had water only a few inches deep.

"There. I made it," I sighed and took a deep breath. "Okay, you did it. Now to get home quickly before things got worse," I said teeth chattering, partly from adrenaline, and partly from the cold. Then I did one of the most stupid things I have ever done.I started the drive home .

Just a few inches of water can sweep your car off of the road!

 

Risking My Life

As I drove out of town in the increasingly heavy rain toward my home 32 miles away, I felt a little queasy.My thoughts were as tangled as a yarn ball after the cat played with it! Should I? Shouldn't I? I questioned my self for four miles. The road that I would turn on at the intersection was a raised road with marshes on either side and no shoulders. I decided I would be safe once I reached the intersection that headed out of town toward the safety of home.There was a stream of slow moving cars ahead of me, and water divided and flowed from around the tires ahead of me like gentle ripples on a lake.

At the intersection where I would turn onto the raised road, I breathed a sigh of relief.I would be okay. I knew this road. It was safe. However, because it was a raised road with no side shoulders, there would be no place to turn around, I felt confident to continue, as the stop light ahead was out ,and two police officers in full raingear were directing traffic.They would not allow us to go on the road if it were not safe, would they?

Too my horror, I was stopped and told that I could not continue on the road, and that I was to turn around at the gas station and go on a substandard highway that was not flooding. Since we would not be able to turn around, we were not allowed to go on in that direction.I was the second driver that was turned around to the other highway, so I followed the driver in the brown pick up truck ahead of me to the gas station.

I had never been on this particular detour road, and by now it was dark outside. As the wipers crisscrossed across the window, I felt worried and scared.I was too afraid to go on, so instead I drove back to the intersection and turned north. I had never heard of that area flooding. I did not see the brown pick up truck after I turned around at the gas station.

After a few miles I saw that the highway dipped , and it too was flooded. It looked too deep for my small car, so I turned around at the only motel in town ,The motel was full,and was flashing a no vacancy sign. The motel parking area was full of stopped cars with wipers swishing. I guess the other drivers were wondering what to do as well. I turned off my ignition, took off my coat, and slumped in my seat as hot tears tricked down to my mouth.A driver got out of his truck and ran to my car. It was the man that I had decided not to follow!He did not go on the road either!

"Listen! " he nearly yelled as the rain made his face look contorted"We(pointing to the female in his truck) can't go north, it's too late.We are going to go back to the road the officers told us about. You can follow us, and drive behind us closely. My truck will part the water if we come to any, so I think you'll be okay if you stay close." I agreed with a nod, turned on my ignition again and followed them.

Why Didn't I Stop?

I don't know why I went on. The driver seemed to think this was the best move. I certainly couldn't decide. We drove on the road for several minutes with no problems.All was well until the driver hesitated ahead of me. He drove slowly, but I could see that the road had a little more than puddles . Not much, but enough that I was getting edgy.

The driver got out and tapped on the window. I rolled it partly down. He told me that if he was correct, we would come to a road soon that would lead to a friend's house.He said that they planned to turn right and go to the friend's house

.The wind was blowing rain into my face, and was soaking my shirt. I was cold,wet, and angry. NOW why didn't he tell me that before? I was visibly upset, and he assured me that he felt that I would encounter no problems.He ran back to his truck and I banged my steering wheel with my fists!There was nothing I could do. I was sandwiched between vehicles that intended to continue, made plain to me by the beep of a horn.

Sure enough, in about fifteen minutes, the driver turned right. I continued ahead.

Rivers and Bayous Join as One

As I drove, I squinted trying to stay on the road in theheavy downpour.The road was barely visible. The rain had not diminished, and the ditches were full. To my right, it appeared that a bayou was overflowing onto the road.To my left ,the river was up to the road. I was terrified.Houses were few and far between on this lonely stretch of pavement. By now there were no cars behind me or ahead of me and the night was pitch dark.As I drove on, I was shocked to see a small camping trailer floating in the bayou!

I prayed as tears fell on my frightened face. "Lord, what have I done?Help me! " I begged .As I turned a curve,I felt that my car was being pulled aside as water swooshed loudly behind me, and my car suddenly jerked.The river and bayou had joined forces and was covering the road behind me! Ahead was a dip in the road , and the other side the road was not under water. I had no choice. I had to go forward.The water was sucking me toward the river!

I drove into the swirling water, and as I did, water came into the car. I could feel the cold wetness splashing my feet. I screamed and tried to keep driving while I prayed. The car seemed to float for a minute, and then miraculously I was on safe ground. I stopped the car and wept, thanking God for saving me.

Suddenly I was aware of a lighted area to my right. It was a big house on a hill! Smoke was drifting from it's chimney and the yard was aglow with light. It was as if I was piloting a ship that was about to shipwreck in the darkness until I saw the beacon of light.

I turned into the driveway and turned off my lights.As I was about to get out of my car , I rehearsed in my thoughts what I would say to the residents inside the big cozy house. I would ask to be allowed to park and sleep in their driveway. I was cold,a wreck emotionally ,and beyond tired.Surely they would allow me that on this dangerous and stormy night.

The carport light came on, and an elderly couple peered out to see me standing before them, bedraggled, scared out of my wits ,and looking at them with pleading eyes.Before I could say anything, the woman exclaimed sympathetically,"Oh you poor thing! Driving in these dangerous conditions! Are you lost? DO NOT DRIVE AHEAD!"

I explained to her that I came from that direction and about the bayou and river joining on the highway. I asked her if I could sleep in her driveway, to which her reply was a gentle pull into her kitchen with an "Of course not, you will come in this minute and stay with us!" I did not protest. Gratefully , I walked into the warm kitchen, trying not to blubber as I entered.There was a platter of fried venison on the stove and biscuits.

Her husband backed away from the door as I came in and said in a hearty voice," We were just about to eat. Why don't you call your family,get on some of Sheila's clothes, and then we'll dig in." I wanted to hug these strangers!In my heart, I felt that these kind people acted on the scripture"for I was stranger, and you took me in."

And that my dear readers, is just what I did! Later I was shown to a bedroom as nice and comfy as a room could be ,and with its on bath. I soaked in the warm water for a good half hour in the tub ,and slipped in between clean sheets that smelled like fresh air. I was safe. Wiser and safe!

copyright  July 9, 2010

Were you aware of the TADD campaign(TURN AROUND - DON'T DROWN! )?

  • yes
  • no
See results without voting

 

TURN AROUND, DONT DROWN ®
                  ©2003 by John G. Fausett

When you’re on the road
And the rain pours down
When the water’s rising
Till it floods the ground

Turn around, don’t drown

Barricade goes up
To alert the town
It delays your journey
So, though you wear a frown

Turn around, don’t drown

Stay away from lower places
                        When the waters on the rise
You could be another victim
If you choose to be unwise

Turn around, don’t drown
(Just go on back and find another way)

You’ve got an S.U.V.
Four thousand pounds
But the moving water
Can lift you off the ground

Turn around, don’t drown

Stay away from lower places
                        When the waters on the rise
You could be another victim
If you choose to be unwise

Turn around, don’t drown
(Just use your head...it’s all common sense)

You can try to swim       
Until it sucks you down
Your body’s swept away
It might never be found

Turn around, don’t drown
Turn around, don’t drown


More by this Author


Comments 24 comments

RevLady profile image

RevLady 6 years ago from Lantana, Florida

When I think of "what might have been," I rejoice in your well being. Live and learn. All glory to God.

Forever His,


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

Thank you RevLady. God indeed rescued me.It was so stupid! I will never do that again!


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

Excellent message in a well written tale. We have flash flooding here, from zero to 6ft deep to zero in a span of minutes. It is never a good Idea to ford unknown waters, 50


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

This is great - an interesting narrative, a happy ending, and excellent advice! Thumbs way up!!


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

50 Caliber

It's good to hear from you.Thanks for the comments.Yes, I see about your flash flooding in AZ on the news frequently. SCARY. In my case, it had been raining for days, and places that had not flooded since the floods of 1927 flooded. It was decalared a disaster area shortly after my incident.


Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 6 years ago from Northam Western Australia

Waw, you were very luck to get out okay, loved the verse too.

Yes water is very destructive that's for sure.


sagebrush_mama profile image

sagebrush_mama 6 years ago from The Shadow of Death Valley...Snow Covered Mountain Views Abound!

Similar issues are prevalent in Southern Nevada, surprisingly, and I gather from some quick internet browsing that the same slogan has been used here. You would be surprised that floods would be a concern in the middle of the desert, but I've seen some doosies! Hmmm...great idea for a flood hub related to my part of the country!


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

Eileen,

Thanks for your comments! I did not write the song. It was written in conjuction with the Turn Around Don't Drown Program.

Oh, and by the way..it was not luck that saved me! 'Twas God! PTL!


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

habee,

Thanks for stopping bt, and for the the thumbs up!


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

sagebrush_mama,

Thanks for reading, and the comments. Yes , I hope that the slogan "Turn Around, Don't Drown" becomes as famous as "stop,drop, and roll!".The campaign (TADD)was first developed in Texas, and spread nationally. NOAA has posters and songs on their website. Great for teachers.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

bayoulady, after your comment on my swimming hub I decided to pay you a visit, wondering how someone living on the bayou could possibly not know how to swim. Oh dear woman you have sent my heart to my throat and back with this hub and increased my appreciation of your courage AND FAITH. You have an angel on your shoulder, there is NO DOUBT. Congratulations


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

Storyteller. I give God the glory for sure. That same night the same scenario was playing out for many other people, including my nephew coming home from his job about 8:00 that night. He was stuck and had to leave his truck. He waded in swirling water past his waist for three miles holding on to a fence most of the way. He was on an isolated road and his cell phone was not working. He said he thought he might not make it.ONLY GOD!ONLY GOD!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

bayou - a very scary story, well written, so suspenseful! Thank you for the warning. Some years ago, a hurricane blew water flooding up into the city streets of Baltimore. It wasn't deep, so people were out wading. The mayor came on the radio warning folks to stay indoors. He said that the man hole covers can float off and you could fall right in. One way in, no way out. Floods can be very dangerous.


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

Hi Delores,

Oh, thank you so much for telling about potholes! I never thought about that!

Thanks for your kind comments on my writing.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas

I think most of us have put ourselves in positions like that without thinking. Back in my flying days, we called it "get home-itous"...it kills a lot of flyers because they end up forcing the situation. In the end, you did the right thing when you stopped for help, Thank God! This is a very good article and some great advice that everyone needs to heed. WB


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

WAYNE, thanks for commenting! It was a stupid,stupid ,stupid thing to do! I was in an isolated area and since the road was flooded in both directions, no one would have found me until dawn's light. I learned my lesson, and I have cautioned many since that incident. TURN AROUND,DON'T DROWN.


Pearldiver profile image

Pearldiver 6 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time.

Well just as well you finally did listen to your intuition bayoulady, or I would not have had the pleasure of such a good enjoyable read. Having drowned in my youth surfing and been brought back.. believe me when you go down you stay down. Hope you guys are recovering from the BP arrogance. Take Care.


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

Pearldiver, thanks for stopping by and sharing that near drowning in the water. People need to have a good healthy respect for bodies of water!


Giselle Maine 6 years ago

Thank you for sharing this story with us - a personal perspective means a lot!


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

Giselle Maine, I appreciate your reading my hub and commenting. This was such a stupid thing to do! I am blessed to be alive!


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

How frighteneing this must have been for you. If not for our Maker looking out for you - But you were spared to tell your story. We all learn from each other. Thank you for sharing this heart-warming story. God bless!


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

Hi Vocalcoach, thanks for reading and the blessing!


stars439 profile image

stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Thank God you found dear souls to help you. Very beautiful poem. GBY


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

Thank you Stars. I was indeed sent by God to wonderful people!

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