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Fire Dept.: Turn Around, Don’t Drown

With the forecast calling for heavy showers, firefighters are on alert should conditions reflect a flash flood situation. Emergency responders also say the public could make their jobs a little easier by following basic safety tips.


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“You know I contemplated swimming for the side, but I didn’t know if I could get out.”

Two weeks ago Spencer Roach of Houston found himself in quite a predicament when he though his Nissan four runner could get through a water filled intersection. He didn’t make it and water rose to the roof of his car. He thought about swimming, but 911 operators told him to stay on the roof till help arrived.

Alvin Wright with the Houston Public Works Department says that was good advice because you could be sucked into a storm drain if you leave your car.

“What happens is that the water pressure inside of the storm drains gets so great that the lids bounce around and can pop off.”

Wright is talking about the under ground drains that have the round manhole covers. But he says the storm drains you see off the side or the road can be just as, if not even more dangerous.

Houston Fire Assistant Chief Thomas Munoz agrees. His department will be on alert as this latest storm passes. But Munoz  says best thing is for motorist not to get themselves into such trouble in the first place.

“Some people might not recognize that as little as six inches of water can actually sweep somebody off their feet and with water as little as two feet can wash away your vehicle as well, that includes SUV’s and trucks.”

As for Spencer Roach’s dilemma about whether to swim for safety or wait with your vehicle — Munoz says waiting for help is always best.

“At least we know where you’re at. We can see you.”

Two weeks ago was a record setting day for the department. Munoz says they made 140 water rescues and responded to more than a 1,000 calls. He also says a lot of that can be prevented — if the public would just listen to their advice.

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