Our hearts are with those affected by Tropical Storm Imelda.
Everyone in the nation heard about the storm. But unless you lived it, it’s hard to describe how challenging and devastating it was. While rain is nature’s garden helper, sometimes it takes a turn into something more sinister. If you’re out driving in it, it can also become a major safety issue.
As of Monday morning, more than 10,000 vehicle flood claims have been filed to due to last week's Tropical Storm Imelda according to insurance companies. The storm was named the fourth wettest in the state of Texas and seventh in the country.
According to a Sept. 22 news release from the Red Cross Association, there were 498 overnight guests in Red Cross shelters the previous night.
Shelters still open include:
- East Montgomery County Senior Center, 21679 McCleskey Road, New Caney
- Whites Park Community Building, 225 White Park Drive, Anahuac
- First Baptist Church Hamshire, 15304 Hwy. 124, Hamshire
- Jack Hartel Building, 318 San Jacinto St., Liberty
- Orange County Convention and Expo Center, 11475 FM 1442, Orange
- New Light Christian Center-East, 7313 E. Houston Road, Houston
- Grace Community Baptist Church, 22044 Burrell-Wingate Road, Beaumont
- House of Mercy, 1126 Cypress St., Baytown
- YYAFA, 170 Hwy. 418, Silsbee
Since Houston is prone to large rainstorms, it’s essential that you learn the basics of handling them when out in your car. Below are 4 things to know about driving in Houston during heavy rain.
#1 Slow Down
It may be your neighborhood and you know the roads like the back of your hand—it doesn’t matter. In heavy rain the first thing you do to increase your safety and the safety of others is slow down. When deep puddles form, you never know how deep they are until you’re in them. If you race through them rather than inch through, you may find yourself in a precarious situation. Don’t use your cruise control either. Cruise control’s automatic acceleration may cause you to hydroplane and/or lose control. People may whiz past you blaring their horn if you’re going under the speed limit on a bad day, but if it keeps you and your family safe, what’s a little extra noise?
#2 Avoid Houston's most flood prone roads/highways
KHOU Channel 11, provides an article with detailed maps.
Unfortunately when it rains, the roads fill up fast in Houston; but some more than others. It's important to avoid these areas if possible. Here's a map that points out 40 locations in the Houston area that are flood prone.
#3 Use Lights, but not too Bright
You aren’t using your lights to see during rainstorms, but instead to inform people you’re there. Visibility is impaired during heavy rain in Houston, and your vehicle’s lights become a beacon to other drivers. That said, you don’t need your brights, your regular headlights will work just fine.
Photo by Photo by MaLeK DriDi
# 4 Position is Everything
One of the most important things to do during a heavy rainstorm is to be very aware of your surroundings. There are a few crucial things to think about:
- Stay in the middle lanes – Outer lanes tend to pool more water. Avoid them if you can.
- Increase your following distance – If you normally follow the correct number of car lengths for your speed, add a little more distance on a rainy day. Poor road conditions can cause braking to take even longer, and it gives you ample time to react if someone else is out of control.
- Watch for large trucks and trailers – Trailers are a hazard in the rain and wind, becoming unpredictable. Stay as far away as possible. Also, large trucks kick up visually debilitating spray—pass when it’s safe, but otherwise stay out of the path of the potential waves of water.
- Stay out of deep water – Your electrical systems and engine are compromised if water gets in them. If the water looks deep—beware—better safe than sorry and stalled.
- Stay out of moving water – If water is moving and you can’t see the ground, you risk being swept away.
- Follow vehicle tracks – Try and stay in the tracks of the vehicle in front of you.
- Stay on the road – Bad weather does not make for good off-roading. Stay on the road if you have to drive during heavy rainstorms.
Photo by Marcus Wöckel
If you are in need of assistance in finding vehicles that were stranded, below is a list with information:
- Harris County Sheriff’s Office: 713-221-6000
- Galveston County Sheriff's Office (for vehicles in Galveston, La Marque, Texas City, Hitchcock, Bolivar, and Santa Fe): 409-766-2322
- Galveston County Sheriff's Office (for vehicles in Dickinson, San Leon, League City, Bacliff, Kemah, Algoa and Friendswood): 281-534-3515
- Liberty County Sheriff's Office: 912-876-2131
- Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office: 281-341-4665
- Montgomery County Sheriff's Office: 936-760-5871
- Waller County Sheriff: 979-826-8282
- Brazoria County Sheriff's Office: 979-864-2338
This week's forecast looks clear up until the weekend:
We're here for you, Houston.