What you need to know to stay safe on the road during flooding

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY — Heavy rain is leading to flooded roads, so when you head out to work Tuesday morning, be especially careful.

What should you look out for to make sure you don’t get stuck in floodwater?

If you see a “road closed” sign, it’s important not to ignore it.

Bonds Road in McCracken County is a well-known trouble spot for flooding. A section of it is completely under water Monday night. As you go, the water just keeps getting deeper, and it really doesn’t take to much to get stranded.

While rain continues to pour, the water inches closer to the pavement. So, when you get behind the wheel and see the warning signs, remember: turn around; don’t drown.

“As little as 6 inches could knock a person walking off their feet. And 12 inches or 1 foot could dislodge a small vehicle off the road. And 2 feet of rushing water will knock a large vehicle off the road,” Paducah-McCracken County EMS Director Jerome Mansfield says.

Mark Powell

Bonds Road is just one of several closed because of flooding in west Kentucky Monday night.

Mark Powell is familiar with the problem. He’s lived on nearby Lydon Road for more than 40 years. He remembers how high the waters were in 2011. He says, because his trailer is raised, that flooding didn’t get into his home — but he was still displaced. “We left here for two or three weeks. Couldn’t get in. Couldn’t check on the place,” he recalls.

This time around, it’s not nearly as bad, but even some water over the road can spell disaster. “Hydroplaning is when you’re approaching the area that’s covered by water and the tires lose traction, and you can lose control of the vehicle very quickly,” Mansfield says.

Franklin County Emergency Management in Illinois posted photos showing a dive time recovering a car that went into the water off of Yellowbanks Road.

The driver is doing OK Monday night, but the photos are a reminder of how dangerous slick roads and flooding can be.

“The main measure a driver can take in this type of rainy weather is to have good information. Be alert, be listening to the weather. Might have an app that’s telling you what roads are closed,” Mansfield says.

To avoid hydroplaning, the American Safety Council has several recommendations:

— Keep your tires properly inflated — and rotate and replace them when needed.
— Turn off cruise control.
— Avoid braking hard.
— And, of course, slow down.

For the latest information on roads closed and/or flooded in west Kentucky by this week’s rains, click here.

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