Drivers Etiquette for Times You Can’t Avoid Flood Waters

Mar 07, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

If you can’t avoid driving through flood waters, then do it slowly. That’s the message local officials and law enforcement want residents, contractors, seasonal homeowners and visitors to take away in the wake of the recent nor’easter that saw an uptick of motorists speeding along Long Beach Boulevard during some of the highest floods.

“When going through high waters, the best thing to do is not,” Ship Bottom Police Sgt. Michael Nash said. “If you have absolutely no choice, go very, very slow. Driving fast only increases the likelihood of the vehicle sucking the water up into the engine.”

Taking water into the engine will destroy a car, he said. Borough police responded to a number of calls from motorists whose vehicles washed out during last week’s storm and who needed to be picked up, Nash said.

Borough Councilman Joe Valyo, also emergency management coordinator, said officials were aware of motorists creating a wake by driving quickly through flood waters.

“Everyone is sensitive to it,” he said. In the recent past, residents have publicly complained to borough officials of wake waters flooding their homes on the side streets, particularly between the Boulevard and Central Avenue, where some of the worst flooding in the borough exists.

In neighboring Long Beach Township, Mayor Joseph Mancini said he has instructed local law enforcement to step up enforcement on motorists speeding through the flood waters.

“You are responsible for your own wake. ... And have some compassion for those who own homes and businesses on the side of the road,” who would prefer not to have waves of water sent toward and into their structures by vehicles moving fast through flooded areas, he said earlier this week.

More deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm-related hazard, according to the National Weather Service. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises motorists to avoid driving through flood waters because drownings can result, and it can happen quickly.

“It takes only 6 inches of water to move a vehicle,” said Valerie Meola, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Cars are kind of buoyant because of the tires.”

— Gina. G. Scala and Juliet Kaszas-Hoch


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