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The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season ended on November 30, and it wreaked devastation on many areas. There were fifteen named storms during the season, plus many tropical storms and tropical depressions.
Any one of these events can produce flash flooding, but local downpours and storms are even more notorious for producing these dangerous events. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that flooding contributes to more deaths than hurricane-related causes.
Flash floods are especially hazardous because they are so unpredictable. They can happen almost anywhere, and the floodwaters can rise slowly or very quickly. More weather-related fatalities are caused by floodwaters than anything else. They can also be the cause of car accidents.
Most floodwater-related deaths occur when people in vehicles attempt to drive through them. Water has a very strong force, and can overpower vehicles. The floodwater does not have to be very deep, and it can be hard to gauge its depth. That is why drivers should never proceed through standing water in parking lots or on streets. The water can sweep the vehicle away, or the road beneath could collapse. It can also cause engines to stall and even ruin them.
The best thing for drivers to do for these situations is to avoid them by taking a different route. If there are barricades they must be adhered to; they are up there for a reason.
In some cases, driving through floodwaters cannot be avoided. In case of emergency or if there is no alternative, a driver will have to proceed with extreme caution.
The first thing to do is estimate how deep the water is. This can be done by watching other vehicles drive through. Once the water is entered, the driver must proceed at a slow, consistent speed as close to the waters’ edge as possible. It is essential to keep an eye out for downed power lines, since electricity travels through water. Large and small items like trees, debris, and other vehicles floating in the water can also be dangerous.
If the water level is past the wheel rims, the brakes may not work. When possible, once on dry ground, they should be tested with gentle pressure.
If the car does not stop, it may be possible to dry the brakes out. This can be done by pressing softly on the brake pedal with one foot while keeping a consistent pressure on the gas pedal.
In the case of the vehicle stalling, the best advice is to turn on the hazard lights and remove your seatbelt. If the door will not open, the window should be put down. The driver should get out of the vehicle immediately and head for higher ground, in especial if the water is rising. If this is not possible, the driver should look for close-by help or call 911
The key to avoiding flash flooding accidents is prevention. If you hear a warning issued for your area, pay attention. Head for higher ground, and listen to the local news for updates. Call the experienced Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow if you or someone you care about was involved in a flash flood accident. We serve clients throughout the state of Delaware, including Elsmere and Seaford, with offices conveniently located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford. Call our Wilmington office at 302-427-9500 or Bear office at 302-834-8484 or complete an online form to schedule a free initial consultation.