GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Imagine you’re driving home and then, out of nowhere, water starts rising around your car. Within minutes it’s up to your window.
This is how quickly a flash flood can inundate roadways. Just like the name suggests, they happen in a flash. Eastern North Carolina is no stranger to flash floods.
In 1999, Hurricane Floyd inundated our region with up to 24 inches of rainfall. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused exceptional flash flooding across North Carolina and South Carolina. It inundated the ground that had already absorbed excessive rainfall in the weeks before.
More recently, rainfall from Hurricane Florence caused some of the worst flash floodings in North Carolina’s history, prompting hundreds of rescues, particularly in New Bern and other spots in Eastern North Carolina.
But it doesn’t take a hurricane to cause catastrophic flash flooding. Last week, a nearly stationary thunderstorm dropped 25 inches of rain on Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in a number of hours, shutting down its airport and flooding streets, homes and businesses.
The best way to stay safe from a flood is to be prepared by knowing the forecast and having a communication plan and emergency kit. Always avoid flood waters, as six inches of swiftly moving water is enough to knock you off your feet. Twelve inches is enough to sweep a car away.
If you encounter a flooded roadway in your vehicle, remember the adage, turn around, don’t drown! If you end up trapped, try to get to higher ground and call 911.