Flood Awareness Week: The dangers of floods - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Flood Awareness Week: The dangers of floods

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Water flooding over roads is particularly dangerous because it's hard to see whether the road exists beneath water Water flooding over roads is particularly dangerous because it's hard to see whether the road exists beneath water
La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -

The National Weather Service in La Crosse anticipates Tuesday's rain will cause issues on some area rivers. That concern couldn't be better timed, since this is Flood Awareness Week. 

When you think of the hazards spring weather can bring, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms probably come to mind.

But the reality is, after lightning, floods are the top weather related killer according to Mike Welvaert, the Service Hydrologist at the La Crosse National Weather Service.

"We would recommend if you hear a warning for your area, be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to take cover and take an action to protect yourselves because it is very common and it is one of the biggest killers in the country."

Floods are deadly in part because they can happen in the matter of minutes and go from bad to worse just as fast. 

Welvaert cautioned, "If you are in a flood prone area, if you've been in an area long enough you'll understand where the flooding risks are around you. Make sure you're aware of those. Make sure you let family members know where those areas are. Develop a plan. Be sure to know where to meet your family members if you get separated or if an event takes place: what are we supposed to do? Where are we supposed to go?" 

Without a plan, your risk of getting swept away dramatically increases. Welvaert added, "That moving water has a lot of power, so if you encounter that water over the road, don't take a chance- go around."

It only takes a foot of water to sweep away most cars and only eighteen inches to take away the largest SUV's and pickups.

"If you come across a roadway that's covered by water: don't go through it. Turn around, don't drown. You just never know if that road is still underneath you or if it's just been washed away. You just can't it due to the water." Welvaert continued, "Because if you get trapped in that water not only are you causing yourself a problem and damaging your car, you're putting your life at risk, and you're also putting at risk some of the rescuers that might have to come save you."

Police are often the first on scene at a rescue, and have to coordinate with other responders. La Crescent Police Chief Doug Stavenau said it takes time and planning to rescue someone in a flood. "If you were to be trapped in such a situation that the fast moving water, we want to make sure that the outcome is positive and that does involve some staging, which does lead to the time elapse that things can change rapidly and deteriorate before we can perform a rescue."

Chief Stavenau adds that the best way to stay safe is knowing when floods are possible by paying attention to the weather forecast and limit your risk by not traveling when flooding is imminent.

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