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A survivor’s cautionary plea about driving through flood waters

Posted on Friday, June 14, 2019 at 5:55 pm

JEFFERSON CITY – Kate Dougherty attempted to drive her shiny white SUV across a road flooded by the swollen waters of the Fabius River in northeast Missouri. In a self-shot Facebook video, she calls the experience a combination of mortification and embarrassment. Though she survived, Dougherty realized she had put her life in danger. And she totaled the car she had purchased just two months ago.
“It was scary,” Dougherty said. “It wasn’t like a ton of fun to sit on the top of my vehicle for 45 minutes today (and) it was a little bit embarrassing to suddenly see the Marion County Sheriff show up.”
The Missouri Department of Transportation reminds motorists that barricades and closures due to water over the road are not designed simply to inconvenience travelers. They are in place to keep you from becoming a footnote to the Flood of 2019.
“Floodwaters can be deeper than they appear and can hide such hazards as sharp objects, electrical wires, sewage and chemicals,” said Chris Engelbrecht, emergency response liaison. “There’s a possibility that the road that was once where the water is no longer exists. Even the best four-wheel-drive vehicle will lose against rapidly moving water and no traction.”
For your own safety and the safety of everyone in your vehicle, take heed of these lifesaving tips:
l Don’t drive through flooded areas. Taking extra time sure beats running out of it.
l Less than six inches of water can turn your car into a poorly-engineered canoe, with no ability to slow down, steer…or float.
l When you see water over the roadway, assume that the roadway below it is either damaged or destroyed.
l Turn Around! Don’t Drown!
“We simply cannot emphasize enough how dangerous it is to move, damage or ignore roadway closure signs,” Engelbrecht said. “Even worse, when you remove a sign and don’t put it back, you endanger the lives of all those who come behind you.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, don’t be dumb, don’t drive through it,” Dougherty said. “Turn around. Seriously, do it.”
More rain and localized river crests can cause road conditions to change quickly. Plan your route by consulting MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map at, or through MoDOT’s smartphone app, available for iPhone and Android mobile devices.