MT officials give tips on managing flooded roads

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Many roads such as parts of Okemos Road, Ottawa Drive, Hillcrest Avenue and Nakoma Drive were closed in Meridian Township last week due to flooding caused by a mix of snow and rain that hit the area. Because of the hazardous conditions, some drivers needed emergency services.

“Over the weekend approximately five cars were towed out of areas as they tried to drive through ice and water over the road,” said Meridian Township Fire Chief Michael Hamel. “One vehicle drove approximately 200 feet into an icy roadway and got stuck.”

With more wild weather expected to cause flooding, law enforcement officials said drivers must take precautions.

The best thing people can do while the roads are flooded is to obey the signage, said Captain Rick Grillo of the MT Police Department. “Sometimes, drivers see the signs and look at the roadway and think their vehicle can make it through.  Please know, the Road Commission closes the roads because they are dangerous or unstable.” 

“Driving on roads that are submerged can cause the road to deteriorate rapidly,” Grillo said. 
There are also often dangers that cannot be seen from the surface. There may be a sinkhole in the road. If a road is marked as closed, drivers should follow detour signs. If there are no detour signs, find another way around.”

If necessary, drivers should also not hesitate to call emergency services, said Grillo who also cautioned drivers to avoid driving through flooded streets whenever possible.

“Drivers should use their best judgment depending on the situation,” said Grillo.“If they need assistance, we will always respond to help. 

Grillo said disobeying road closures could result in the temporary loss of vehicles as well.

“We don’t expect anyone to put themselves in unnecessary danger. For instance, over the weekend we had several vehicles intentionally disobey road closed signs and try to drive through flooded roadways. Their vehicles were stuck and they needed emergency workers to rescue them from their vehicles. A lot of times in these cases a tow truck will not venture out to retrieve the vehicle.” 

Hamel also offered similar advice for drivers with large vehicles.

“If you own an SUV or a larger truck, you should still avoid flooded roadways unless you want a watery grave for your vehicle,” he said.

Flooding is nothing new for MT, which experiences it due to the mix of melting snow and rain that’s common in Michigan this time of year.

 “We have isolated storm events that happen all the time,” said Patrick Lindemann, the Ingham County Drain Commissioner. “And so every little drainage district that gets hammered by a storm event winds up at risk of flooding, just depends on how much water comes out and how much snow is melted at the same time that it’s raining.”

The recent drop in temperature caused the snow to switch over to rain only aided the flooding.

“Like today, I don’t know what the temperature is out there but it’s got to be over 40 and with snow on the ground and it’s raining,” said Lindemann. “So you have not only the inches of rain but you have the amount of water that comes from the melted snow because of the rain. You add those two together and you wind up with how much water you have to deal with, but usually two inches of storm event, two inch rain storm, our drainage system can handle that, anything over that we wind up in in some flood conditions.” 

Lindemann also agrees to follow safety procedures when flooding occurs.

“You could declare war on water and water will always win,” he said.

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