Last night my husband and I packed up our things and prepared to drive home after a short weekend getaway. Big, quarter-sized raindrops began to fall. With the hot, summer heat, it felt nice to have a reprieve from the scorching weather.
The raindrops became harder and more consistent, but we decided to make a break for it and rush out. I popped open my umbrella and began to ran when I was met with a gust of wind so strong my umbrella turned inside out. In the short 30 feet to the car, we were both soaked.
Turning outside the housing development we noticed that the gushing ran had nowhere to go. The streets began to flood and our visibility was reduced to about 10 percent. The highest setting on our windshield wipers were no match to this torrential downpour.
The rain turned into pounding quarter-sized hail, and the streets were now gushing with water and mud.
Panicked, we did what we thought was best: get to high land and wait it out.
The standing water reached almost eight inches deep. But our area wasn’t the hardest hit. Nearby neighborhoods pooled standing water almost two-feet deep due to inadequate draining facilities in this desert town.
I had experienced my first flash flood.
Flash floods and other acts of nature can be terrifying in your home. But it is a whole other beast when you are in a small, metal box on wheels (your car). A feeling of vulnerability came over me as I feared we might get washed away.
It made me think: did we do the right thing? Was I even prepared?
Flash floods are often rare (especially in the desert I was in), but are still possible. A flash flood is a significant amount of rainfall in a short amount of time. Too much water usually overwhelms the city’s draining system and spills into the streets and worse, into homes.
Drivers are especially vulnerable because puddles are deeper than they appear and it is easy to hydroplane and lose control of your car. Fast moving high waters can easily sweep away a car.
If you are caught in a flash flood, get to higher ground if possible. Busy streets where water is supposed to flow are not a good idea and should be avoided because of the extra water and traffic. After you have reached high ground, find a local news station on the radio. My local radio station broadcasted storm warnings for the area giving details of what areas to avoid, how long the storm should last and what actions I should take. The broadcast discouraged driving until the storm had passed for the aforementioned reasons.
After the flood, you should avoid the puddles. Cars aren’t meant to be submerged and puddles are often deeper than you think. Splashing in puddles could lead your car out of control and you might have to bail.
Drive on streets that are not used for drainage and make it safely to your destination.