From 2015 through 2018, 34 of Missouri’s 39 flooding deaths – 87 percent – were people who had been in vehicles. In 2015, alone, flooding killed 27 people in Missouri, more than the previous seven years combined and the highest total since 1993. Twenty-three of the 27 people who died had been in motor vehicles. Flash flooding is the leading cause of flooding deaths and historically more than half of the people killed by flooding were in motor vehicles.

Facts to Help Stop Flooding Deaths in Missouri

  • Never expect barriers to block off flooded low-water crossings or bridges because floodwaters often rise so quickly authorities cannot close a road in time.
  • Some motorists never see the high water until it’s too late because of poor visibility due to darkness or heavy rain.
  • Be alert for high water whenever flash flooding is forecast. Slow down when visibility is limited.
  • Don’t drive if you don’t have to when flash flooding is occurring in your area.
  • Turn around. Don’t drown.
  • Never think that because you made it across a flooded low water crossing in the past that you’ll make it the next time. Many areas saw record flooding in 2015 and others will in the future.
  • Never be tempted to drive into floodwater because it appears shallow. Looks are deceiving and the roadway may not be intact. Floodwater often washes out roads or compromises their structural integrity.
  • Less than a foot of moving water is enough to push a vehicle.
  • Cars will float when the force of the water is greater than the force of friction. Sand and mud that come with flash flooding reduce the friction force of gravity holding the car in place
  • Think about everything you could lose before trying to save a few minutes by not turning around.
  • If you wind up in flood water and your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and sweep it away.
  • On average, flash flooding kills 140 people each year in the U.S.

Flash Flood Safety Rules at Home or Work

  • When a flash flood watch is issued…be alert to signs of flash flooding and be prepared to evacuate on a moment’s notice
  • When a flash flood warning is issued for your area, or the moment you realize that a flash flood is imminent, act quickly to save yourself. You may only have seconds!
  • Go to higher ground – climb to safety.
  • Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc.
  • Avoid already flooded and high velocity flow areas. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening weather conditions.
  • Children should never play around high water, storm drains, viaducts or arroyos.
  • If you come upon a flowing stream where the water is above your ankles, stop! Turn around and go another way. If water is moving swiftly, even water six inches deep can knock you off your feet.

Flash flooding fatalities statistics provided by the National Weather Service.