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Is It Safe to Keep Driving During a Flash Flood?

Brandon Evans   |  October 19, 2016   |  

After the devastation that Hurricane Matthew left in its wake, many in the US and abroad are struggling to pick up the pieces. Here in North Carolina, particularly eastern North Carolina where we have offices, we have had to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in several ways, including thousands of damaged homes, cars and trucks. In addition, following the hurricane, many of our roads were flooded, leading to dangerous driving conditions. Often, the best thing you can do if there’s a flood is stay put if you’re already somewhere safe. However, if you’re already out on the road or forced to leave a location because it’s unsafe, we’d like to pass along a few flood driving safety tips.

Safety Tips for Driving in Flood Conditions

The Weather Channel released a list of flash flood driving safety tips to help drivers avoid auto accidents and injuries if they are caught out on the road during a flood:

  • Due to the fact that rising water can flood a vehicle in minutes or even seconds, you should try to avoid driving through flood waters
  • It does not take much water to flood a vehicle. Six inches of water can reach the bottom of most cars, which can lead to the vehicle losing control and/or stalling. Twelve inches of water can flood many vehicles. Even SUVs and pickup trucks can be carried away by just two feet of water.
  • If you are stuck in your vehicle underwater, you should remove your seatbelt and head to the roof or rear window where there should be a pocket of air. Take a deep breath, slowly roll down a window and swim to safety. If the window won’t roll down, break the window with a tool, such as a Swiss Army knife, and then swim to safety.
  • If possible, avoid attempting to wade through flood water, which can flow as fast as 67 mph. If water is flowing 6 mph, the force is equal to that of the wind speed of an EF5 tornado. If water is flowing 25 mph, it is equal to a wind speed of 790 mph.

How did you ride out Hurricane Matthew? Tell us in the comments section below or on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

Gene Riddle traveled from Goldsboro to Clayton and then to Chapel Hill on Saturday, the day the hurricane hit North Carolina. On the way home, he found himself driving in high water in several places along US highway 70 between Clayton and Goldsboro. The next day his lower back bumper was missing. The pressure of the water racing across the road sucked it off his car. He learned a lesson to stay off the roads during a hurricane even if it means missing a Carolina Football game.