Flash flooding reminder of water's danger

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

After years of drought, today's flooding is almost surreal.

We guess it shouldn't be; after all, the great Republican River flood of 1935 came in the midst of the Dust Bowl years.

But rainfall of up to six inches overnight and continuing today made flooding a real concern, and officials were setting up a command post as this was written this morning.

Many county roads were washed out, Barnett Park was flooded and authorities were keeping an eye on Kelley Creek and the dam above it as flash flood warnings remained in effect.

It isn't hard to convince us today of something we would usually find hard to believe -- more people die from flooding each year than from any other weather-related event.

The reason, according to the National Weather Service, is that most of us underestimate the force and power of water.

More than half of all flood-related deaths result from vehicles being swept downstream. Most of these deaths are preventable, which is why NOAA created the "Turn Around Don't Drown" effort to warn people of the hazards of walking or driving through flood waters.

Officials offer these tips:

* Monitor the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, or your favorite news source for vital weather related information. Local radio stations do a good job of keeping listeners informed, and extensive information is available on the Gazette's Web site, http://mccookgazette.com and clicking the weather symbol in the upper left corner of the screen.

* If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc.

* Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Turn Around and Don't Drown.

* 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.

As you are reading this, of course, most of the days activities have been concluded, and it's too late to heed NOAA's advice if you haven't already done so.

But with continuing rain in the forecast, there's plenty of time to take precautions before the next flash flood.

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