August 30, 2006
Charlotte, NC – As Tropical Storm Ernesto approaches Charlotte and the Carolinas, it brings with it the possibility of flooding rains. The Mecklenburg County Health Department wants to help prepare you and your family for whatever Mother Nature brings our way.
While no watches or warnings are currently in effect for the immediate city/county area, heavy rains with totals ranging from one to three inches are possible between Wednesday and Friday with the heaviest precipitation falling Thursday and Thursday night. In addition, the erratic nature of tropical systems could mean a rapid deterioration in weather conditions, giving citizens precious little time to prepare for or escape flooding rains.
The majority of flood-related deaths are caused when people attempt to drive through moving water. Most vehicles will float in just a few inches of water. During especially heavy thunderstorms and rain events, the road bottom can also wash away making the water much deeper than it appears.
- If you approach a flooded roadway, even if it appears shallow enough to cross, turn around and take an alternate route. It only takes 18 inches of water to cause an SUV or bus to float away.
- If your car stalls in floodwaters, abandon it immediately and move to higher ground.
- If there is no other route, get to a safe location and wait until waters subside.
- If you come upon a flooded road, call 9-1-1 and make police aware of the problem.
Bottom line: Do not attempt to drive across a water-covered roadway.
Creeks and streams can fill up quickly and overflow their banks during a flash flood. Powerful, rushing water can sweep an individual away in seconds. During flash flooding associated with Hurricane Danny in 1997, a young child playing along Irwin Creek in West Charlotte was killed when she was carried several miles downstream by the swift current.
- Never let children play near swollen creeks or streams, storm drains, ditches, or culverts.
- Before the storm arrives, check the storm drains on your street and clear off any debris that could keep rainwater from flowing into the drain.
Flooding of homes and properties brings with it a potential bevy of problems. Water supplies can become contaminated, sewage can back up into homes, and mold and mildew can increase the risk of health problems.
- Avoid contact with floodwater. It could contain raw sewage, motor oil, chemicals or other contaminants.
- Floating garbage can cause serious health problems. If you are at risk for flooding, make sure all garbage and refuse is removed to higher ground or taken to a sanitary landfill.
- Floodwaters can cause sewage to back up into homes. Be sure and wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during cleanup and discard any household goods that cannot be disinfected.
- If you have a private well that has been flooded, have the Health Department test it before using it again.
- Watch out for wild animals. Snakes and other animals may be looking for drier ground themselves in and around homes. Some of these animals may have rabies, so avoid all contact with them. Animal bites, scratches, or any contact should be reported to the Mecklenburg County Health Department at 704-336-6440.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management continues to monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Ernesto and, together with city and county officials, will keep residents informed of any change in the storm's status or preparations citizens should take.
For more information on flood safety, visit: