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City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Donna McCracken, Deputy Fire Chief, (510) 981-5501


Berkeley, California (Wednesday, March 09, 2016) - With rain expected today and for several days to come, be careful of flooded streets and sidewalks, where water can easily overwhelm people, cars and trucks. Turn around and seek an alternate route.

When a powerful winter storm covered Ashby Avenue at Interstate 80 in Berkeley in December 2014, traffic was closed in both directions and City staff and CalTrans put up barriers warning people to not drive forward. Nonetheless, several vehicles drove around road-closure barriers and went into seemingly shallow waters. Those vehicles soon became submerged in the flood waters. Passengers had to crawl out of the windows of their cars, which were totaled. The very top of a submerged white sedan can be seen in the photo below.    

Flooding causes more deaths than any other weather hazard, according to FEMA. Most of these drownings could be prevented if people better understood power of floodwater. Protect your life and of those you are with: When you see water and you don't know the depth: Turn Around, Don't Drown.

More than half of all flood-related drownings occur when vehicles are swept away because their drivers attempted to travel through flood water. Many drive around flood barriers because they mistakenly believe their 3,000 pound or more vehicle is so heavy it will stay in contact with the road surface.

Never drive through flooded roadways, where you cannot know the depth of the water or the condition of the ground underneath. This is even truer at night, when vision is limited. Be safe.

Flooded Ashby Underpass

Keep these facts from FEMA in mind:

  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pick-ups.

The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths occurs when people try to walk through or walk too close to flood waters. As little as six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult.

Watch the video:  Turn Around Don't Drown

For more information on El Niño impacts in Berkeley, go to http://www.cityofberkeley.info/Resilience/ElNino/


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