By Sue Baldani
When Tropical Storm Ida recently tore through our area, over 25 people in New Jersey died, mostly from drowning. Although some of these deaths couldn’t have been prevented, others could, especially those that occurred on our roads.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is caused by walking into or near flood waters.
In their desire to get to their destinations, many people underestimate the power and force of water. When coming upon a flooded road, instead of backing up and finding an alternate route, they tell themselves that their vehicles can get through just fine, often misjudging how deep the water truly is. Many times, this leads to tragedy. Once in the middle of these flood waters, cars often stall and people find themselves stranded and in trouble.
If they’re lucky, rescue crews are nearby and can pick them up before the water gets even higher or their cars are washed away by flash flooding. If they’re not, and can’t make it back to dry land, they often drown. Driving into flooded waters also puts first responders at risk when they have to venture into these dangerous waters to save others.
So the next time you drive up to a flooded road, turn around. Don’t take the chance; don’t gamble with your life and that of others. Drive to higher ground and find a safe place to wait until the water recedes and it’s safe to travel once again.
Written for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad in New Jersey. Sue Baldani is a life member of the squad.