Heed warnings of flash floods

Monday, August 11, 2008

When it rains, it pours.

Today's issues includes photo coverage of the results of weekend downpours that burst at least one small earthen dam and flooded lowlands.

Just coming off a seven-year drought, and still in an unresolved conflict with Kansas over a shortage of water in the Republican River, Golden Plains residents do well to take heed of the vagaries of Mother Nature on the Golden Plains.

Rain is a minor inconvenience for those of us who use paved roads to get to work, but rural residents may find themselves stranded by slippery mud or massive gulleys were metal culverts used to be.

Fortunately, the valleys around the river and its tributaries are much safer than they were 73 years ago when the Republican River flooded, killing about 113 people.

Flood control and irrigation dams like those at Enders, Trenton, McCook and Cambridge, plus dozens of smaller erosion control dams make floods like that unlikely -- not impossible -- to occur again.

And, while there are much better warning systems in place today, flash floods are the number one weather-related cause of death in the United States, responsible for killing about 200 people per year, about half of them in vehicles.

So while we should be thankful leaders of the past made sure flood control and warning systems were put in place, we shouldn't take our safety for granted.

Pay attention to commercial broadcasts, and check in on Internet weather sites before traveling or retiring for the night.

And, if you must travel after heavy rains, never drive through a flooded road. It only takes a few inches of running water to sweep your car away.

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