Flooding a worry during severe spring storms

Published 8:21 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2019

This week is the perfect time to talk about spring severe weather preparedness, especially when it comes to flash flooding.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and Gov. Phil Bryant designated this week to inform the public about ways to prepare for severe weather.

Flash flooding is a term we hear about regularly, but few of us appreciate just how dangerous it can be. Flash flooding occurs when excessive water fills normally dry creeks or river beds along with currently flowing creeks and rivers, causing rapid rises of water in a short amount of time, MEMA said. “It can happen with little or no warning. During heavy rain, the storm drains can become overwhelmed and flood roads and buildings.”

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All it takes is 6 inches of water to reach the bottom of most cars, causing loss of control or engine stalling. A foot of water will cause many vehicles to float. Two feet of water will carry away most vehicles, including trucks and SUVs.

Some streets in Brookhaven can carry several inches of water during heavy rainfall, meaning the danger is closer than you might think. You don’t have to live near a creek or river for flash flooding to be a concern.

MEMA offers the following safety tips when flash flooding is a threat:

• Get to higher ground and away from areas subject to flooding.

• Do not drive or walk into flooded areas. Remember to turn around, don’t drown.

This is the toughest safety tip to follow. Too often, we barrel right into that flooded street without knowing how deep the water is.

• Stay informed by your local news, weather radio, internet and social media for updates on flooded areas.

Tornadoes are also a major concern during the spring months. The state has been hit by 886 tornadoes in the months of March, April and May since 1950, according to the National Weather Service.

“The floods that ravaged counties in the southeast portion of the state just after Christmas this past year destroyed nearly $8 million of public infrastructure,” said MEMA Executive Director Greg Michel. “Like flooding, tornadoes happen very fast and often catch people ill prepared.  The only thing predictable about the weather this time of the year is unpredictability.  Pay attention to MEMA’s weather alerts when severe weather is forecast and act accordingly.  Stay alert; stay alive.”

That’s good advice for all of us.