MCFRS News Release

Severe Weather in the Region Stay Away and Stay Alive

Fast Flowing Water Can be Deceptively Dangerous

Rockville - - Montgomery County Fire and Rescue officials continue to closely monitor the weather and are urging all residents to be alert to changing weather conditions as a strong storm system continues to move through the area. As a result of widespread flooding and in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the Potomac River is at dangerous levels and poses a serious hazard. Heavy rain can cause flash floods and residents should be prepared to take immediate action, if necessary.
“We know that people enjoy visiting the park for recreation however we are concerned that no one could survive a fall into the river with the currents as strong as they are,” said Fire Chief Richard Bowers. “We are urging people to stay away from the river and not put themselves, or first responders, in danger while the river is at unsafe levels.”

Current weather forecasts demonstrate a potential for storms in the area to reach severe levels. All lightening should be considered dangerous, heavy rainfall often causes flooding of creeks and streams, county roads and low-lying areas. Residents in the area are urged to listen for weather updates, alerts and safety recommendations.

Residents that have not yet signed up for “Alert Montgomery” are urged to do this. Alert Montgomery can deliver important emergency alerts, notifications and weather updates. Please visit http://alert.montgomerycountymd.gov for additional information.  

Every year, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue personnel respond to incidents involving vehicles trapped in rushing flood waters and in rescues in the Potomac River. The combination of high water, slippery banks and fast-moving water make for extremely dangerous conditions and residents should observe all signage, warnings and consider the river unsafe and dangerous at all times.      

Safety Tips
If a flash flood warning is issued, act immediately. Don't wait for high water to dictate your course of action. 

Know your location when you are driving. If you needed rescue, would you be able to direct emergency crews to your location?  Distracted driving can lead to a situation where you are stranded and unable to direct emergency crews to you.  Be alert!
 
Never drive through a flooded road or bridge. Back up and try a different route. In many cases, it takes far less than a foot of water to incapacitate a vehicle.  It may stall, leaving you stranded, and depending on the level of water, you may not be able to open a vehicle door.  Do not underestimate the power of moving water.   

Stay on high ground. If your car is trapped, get out if you can safety do so. Move to higher ground. If you're driving through a hilly area or place that is subject to flooding along a stream and hear a flash flood warning, go to high ground – never try to outrun a flash flood.
Watch for flooding at bridges and dips in the road. Never drive where water is over bridges or roads. Turn around. The bridges or the road could suddenly be washed out.  If you're driving at night be especially careful. Often visibility is limited due to wind and rain. If you should drive into water, don't try to drive out of it. Get out of the car and safely return to higher ground.

Often what you can't see below the surface of the water is far more dangerous than the high levels of that water. Remember that rocks, tree limbs and other debris can be caught in moving water and can be dangerous if you are forced to walk, wade or swim through flood waters. 

If you have to walk or wade through flood water, use a stick to poke the ground in front of you with each step. It can help you determine water levels, the bottom surface and the safest possible way to get to higher ground. 

Remember that flash floods can come without warning, and sometimes without weather. Be alert and heed all warnings and recommendations from officials. From FEMA's website, some further information about driving through flooded roadways: 

 
ROADS IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY SUBJECT TO PERIODIC FLOODING:
                                                                                                        
DOWN-COUNTY AREAS


UP-COUNTY AREAS

White’s Ferry Road and River Road - White’s Ferry
 

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