The record for most rainfall in a year in Henderson County was broken over winter break in 2018, and the high water levels have caused numerous road closures.
While it can be tempting for drivers to ignore the warning signs and try to drive through the flood waters, emergency services officials warned that it is important that drivers heed the barriers to stay safe.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. It only takes six inches of standing water to cause a car’s tires to lose traction. Over the the last weekend of 2018 in Henderson County, various drivers were faced with these conditions, and some had to be rescued by first responders.
“We made multiple rescue efforts last Friday and through the weekend,” Major Frank Stout with the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office said. “Some of the biggest flooding areas are down Butler Bridge Road and up near Tap Root Dairy. Responders went there many times to help people who had tried to drive through the water. We had multiple rescues of people stranded in their cars over the weekend. A lot of the people trapped in their cars probably didn’t get out until the last day or two, because it wasn’t safe for the rescuers to go in and get them.”
Many people drive through flood waters because they underestimate the danger that it presents, whether it is moving or still water.
“In our area, you don’t see a lot of fast moving water, so people think it’s safe to drive through it,” Assistant Chief Adam Justus of the Henderson County Rescue Squad said. “However, there are a lot of dangers that lie beneath the waters, such as the roadway being washed out. We saw this in our past flooding event, when a man drove his Land Rover into flood waters. He couldn’t see what was beneath the water and thought that there was pavement there. The front of his vehicle actually went into a creek. He’s very lucky that his vehicle stopped moving and he was able to be rescued.”
Another consequence of driving through flood waters, beside potentially being hurt, is being charged with reckless driving. The maximum fine for this class two misdemeanor is $1,000. A reckless driving violation will also add four points to your license.
“Reckless driving is kind of a catch-all,” Stout said. “You can be charged with driving around a barricade and things like that. Our biggest concern is when you do something while using poor judgement. If you drive around barriers you are putting not only yourself and anyone else in your car in harm’s way, but also the first responders who have to come get you.”
According to head teacher Emily Young, flood waters put a strain on Henderson County Public Schools as well as emergency services officials.
“The biggest hindrance we’ve experienced is, when the roads are closed, having to put students on another bus, reroute buses, or tell students they have to find their own way home,” Young said. “This year we’ve seen a lot more of these road closures than I’ve noticed in my past years.”
Sophomore Katie Schneider said she noticed local troubles with the flood waters.
“Near Fletcher, I saw a lot of swampy areas and a couple of downed fences,” Schneider said. “A few of my friends had to take detours just to get to their houses.”
By: Sarah Monoson, Feature Writer