Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 14, 2013

Flooded roads imperil drivers


THE ISSUE: The potential for flooded roadways after heavy rain.

OUR VIEW: Take care when driving in low-lying areas after significant precipitation.

With heavy hearts we reported Monday morning the death of 2012 Northwestern High School graduate and Ball State University student Blake Taylor.

Taylor was returning to campus Sunday evening when his car hydroplaned on a flooded portion of Ind. 26 near Fairmount, a Grant County sheriff deputy said. The Kokomo man’s car flipped over in a ditch filled with 4 to 5 feet of water.

Two sheriff deputies and a Fairmount police officer broke out one of Taylor’s car windows in an attempt to free him but couldn’t. The officers then used tow straps to pull the car onto the roadway.

Taylor died at Marion General Hospital.

The sort of heavy rain that soaked the area Saturday and Sunday makes flooding a real threat in north central Indiana, as streams and rivers overflow their banks. Flash floods can come rapidly and unexpectedly.

Flash flooding can occur after a few minutes of heavy rainfall or after hours of significant precipitation. Hoosiers who live in flood-prone areas should always be conscious of the threat of flash floods when significant rain strikes – as should state and county officials.

In the interest of public safety, they should act quickly to close roads and highways when they’re flooded. Ind. 26 was not closed at the time of Sunday’s tragic accident.

Indiana State Police offer these tips when flooding occurs.

Don’t travel unless absolutely necessary. If you have to travel, carry a cellphone with a car charger.

Purchase a weather scanner and heed all flood and flash flood warnings issued by the National Weather Service.

Do not drive around barricades at water crossings.

Be especially vigilant at night. Many drowning deaths occur at night when it is difficult to see water crossings.

Do not cross or enter flowing water. Driving fast through high water on the road is not a solution. Faster speeds create less tire contact with the road surface and increase your chance of crashing.

Driving through standing water may affect your brakes. Test your brakes at low speeds as soon as you exit the water.

If you choose to abandon your vehicle, respect the force of the water flow, you may be swept off your feet. After you exit the vehicle, seek higher ground.

Be aware that road erosion may occur when there is running or standing water.

Remember that 6 inches of water will reach the bottoms of most car doors. One foot of water will float many vehicles, and 2 feet of moving water can carry away most vehicles. If you find yourself stranded in flood waters remain calm and call 911. If you can do so safely, move to higher ground.