By Carol McIntire
Carroll County officials are urging motorists to “Turn Around, Don’t Drown,” in light of recent incidents involving high water on roadways.
Sherrodsville Volunteer Fire Dept. Inc. members were called to rescue two people who drove around a “high water” sign on Crane Rd. during the most recent flooding, about a week and a half ago.
Bill Booth, Sherrodsville VFD Inc., said three firefighters suited up in water suits and used the department’s 12-foot flat bottom to rescue the pair.
“They walked the boat out into the water and brought the two back to safety in it,” he said. “The water was about waist deep on the firefighters when they got to the truck,” he added.
County Emergency Management Agency Director Tom Cottis said another motorist ignored high water signs on SR 212 between Sherrodsville and Leesville during the same flood.
“He drove around the high water sign and then decided it was too deep and attempted to turn around in a driveway,” Cottis said. He missed the driveway and ended up in deep water. The water was so deep, the vehicle wasn’t able to be removed for three days.”
Cottis said traditionally, flooding that closes roadways begins in Carroll County in March and continues through early April.
“This year we’re experiencing the flood water early,” he said. “We can expect it to continue through the traditional season as well.”
As of Feb. 26, the elevation of Atwood Lake was 931.5 feet, 8.5 feet over the winter pool level. Leesville was at 967.3 feet, 9.3 feet over winter pool level.
“We are forecast to receive more rain in the next week, so motorists can expect flooding,” Cottis said.
According to the National Weather Service, more deaths occur due to flooding than any other thunderstorm related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water.
The Weather Service noted a mere six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult and 12 inches of rushing water can carry away a small car. Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. Roads covered by flood water are also prone to collapse.
“If you see a high water or road closed sign, turn around and find an alternate route,” said Sheriff Dale Williams. “People don’t realize how deep the water really is, especially at night, and often it’s too late once you have entered the flood water.”
He said if a vehicle becomes stranded in flood water, the driver and any occupants should act fast.
“Get yourself and everyone else out of their seatbelt and out a window and onto the roof of the car. Call 911 or get the attention of a passerby or someone standing on higher ground so they can call for help,” he said.