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Turn Around, Don't Drown
March 17, 2009
AUGUSTA, MAINE -- Springtime in Maine brings crocuses and robins, but also an increased risk of flooding. The Maine Emergency Management Agency is joining with the National Weather Service with one simple message this spring: “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”
Each year more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather related hazard. “People underestimate the force and power of water,” MEMA Director Rob McAleer says. “More than half of all flood related deaths result from vehicles being driven into flooded areas and then swept away. These deaths are preventable.”
According to the National Weather Service, all vehicles are at risk when entering flood waters. Even pickups and sports utility vehicles can float in very little water. “Even if you think the water looks shallow, there may not be a road there anymore,” McAleer says. “Rapidly flowing water can scour a roadbed away and leave a weakened road surface or a large hole that could easily swallow a vehicle.”
“If you encounter a flooded road, it isn’t about getting home on time, it’s about getting home at all,” McAleer says, “The message is pretty simple. Turn around. Don’t drown.”
MEMA and the National Weather Service suggest these safety rules:
- Monitor the NOAA weather radio or your favorite news source for vital weather related information.
- Track flood potential thoughout the spring at our Riverwatch page
- If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding.
- Obey local officials and road signs placed by road crews. They are there for your safety.
- Avoid areas already flooded...especially if the water is flowing fast. Don't 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!
- Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes...particularly during threatening weather conditions.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
- After the flood, be aware that bridges, culverts or the road surface may have sustained damage. Obey all road closure signs even after the flood waters have receded.
- Learn more about flood preparedness and safety at Maine Prepares