Missouri Governor Jay Nixon issued a State of Emergency on Monday, December 28th, following unseasonably rainy weather and flooding that could cause devastation rivaling the historic flood of 1993. The flooding that occurred that year destroyed 50,000 homes and killed forty-seven people across the Midwest.
The Branson area has experienced some of the most severe flooding in the state at this time, with low-lying areas completely submerged and some roadways surrounding the town closed. Nearly 200 Branson families were asked to evacuate their homes and move to a Red Cross shelter that was opened on higher ground nearby. Lake of the Ozarks residents have also experienced flooding in some areas, causing multiple instances of property damage.
Governor Nixon is urging anyone in affected areas to avoid driving if possible. While many Lake Area drivers are accustomed to navigating the roadways in all kinds of weather, it takes only a small amount of water accumulation to create hazardous conditions. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that as little as a foot of water can sweep away a small car. Two feet can sweep away larger cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs.
Below are some safety guidelines for safely traversing Missouri roadways during suboptimal weather conditions:
- Use headlights at all times when precipitation is occurring; high-beam/fog lights may be employed if necessary.
- Do not use cruise control.
- Avoid braking suddenly if hydroplaning occurs.
- Allow sufficient space between vehicles.
- If standing water can be seen on the roadway ahead, turn the vehicle around and seek higher ground.