Brooklyn residents might pride themselves on knowing how to do just about anything, but beware the rare natural disaster, flooding on roadways.
Whether you're on the Belt Parkway or somewhere in Vermont navigating your way home during a hurricane, how you handle driving through a flood area could be a life-or-death decision.
Most flood deaths, according to government data, occur in automobiles.
- What's a Flood Warning?: Officially, a "Flood Warning" issued by the National Weather Service or state or local authority means flooding is occurring or is imminent.
- Where to Get Information about Floods: Flood warnings are issued on all major news and weather stations, online, on the radio, and on TV. Or, log onto the National Weather Service website directly, here.
2. DON'T Stop to Take That Amazing Photo of the Swollen River During Floods
If you find yourself staring at a swollen river overflowing that picturesque, don't pop out of the car and start snapping pictures and sending them from your mobile phone to your friends.
Everyone loves to get that unusual photo, but don't waste precious time being a citizen journalist if you happen to be driving through an area that's starting to flood.
Act quickly. That means move to higher ground.
3. DO Detour Around a Dangerous Route to Avoid Flood Areas
There's always another way around something. Detour around a flood zone even if it takes time. Or, postpone whatever meeting or errand you were going to drive to if there's a flood warning. Is it really essential? If not, don't go.
4. DON'T Try to Drive Through a Water-Covered Roadway
You can't really judge the depth of a flood, and certainly not when approaching in a car. How deep is it? Will you get stuck? If the water is flowing, the current might be stronger than you'd expect.
According to the National Weather Service, "Just one foot of flowing water is powerful enough to sweep vehicles off the road." That goes for bikes, motorcycles and even trucks.
5. DON'T Be Stubborn: Just Turn Around to Avoid a Car Accident During Flooding
Sure, it's frustrating to have to backtrack when you're in a hurry. But if you happen upon a flood, don't try to tough it out and drive through it. Get out of there. Just turn around and make a new plan.
6. DON'T Drive at Night in a Flood Zone Area
Even the best drivers with 20-20 vision may not see as well when driving at night.
It's harder to see flooding, and certainly impossible to judge the depth of water or the speed of a current.
7. DON'T Try to Drive Across a Bridge That's Covered by Water
Here's a car accident prevention scenario: So you've driven 30 miles on a country road in bad weather, and you've arrived at the one bridge that gets you to where you're going. It's covered with water, but just a bit. It looks passable. What to do?
The National Weather Service would say this: "Do not attempt to cross water covered bridges" during a flood warning. You're at risk of being swept into the water.
8. DON'T Get Out of Your Car and Try to Cross a Flooded Bridge on Foot
Suppose, during hurricane or huge storm, you are very close to your destination — indeed, just over that slightly flooded bridge. You're thinking that you might just park the car on one side of the bridge, and walk the rest of the distance. It seems reasonable, but it's not. This decision could cost you your life if there's a strong current or sudden surge, or if you lose your footing.
To escape rising water move up to higher ground, and make another plan.
9. Yes, Flooding Can Happen Here, in New York City
Even here, in the Big Apple, we can get flooding on roadways. Vulnerable areas include:
- The Bronx: Bronx River, Orchard Beach, Mill Pond Park
- the Rockaways
- the Belt Parkway
It's important to know what to do when driving in a flooded area. Extreme weather emergencies often create an undercurrent of panic, and people understandably want to get where they're going. But whether you try to drive over that water-covered bridge could be a fateful, even fatal, decision.
Source: National Weather Service