AUSTIN (KXAN) – During Thursday night’s severe weather, the Travis County Emergency Services District No. 2 saved 16 people stuck in their vehicles during a flash flood. Thankfully, no one was injured.
The department can expect to get around 37 calls during a typical 24-hour period, but by the end of last night, they had received 60. Travis County ESD No. 2 Fire Chief Nick Perkins said flash floods, particularly in Travis County, can be extremely dangerous.
“I cannot stress how dangerous floodwater is. Our county has seen significant impacts from floods in the past. Floods are deadly. We’re just really fortunate [and] really grateful that no one was seriously injured or killed last night,” Perkins said.
What to do in extreme weather
Perkin’s number one piece of advice to residents is to stay off the roads when there is a risk of flooding. “Unfortunately, a lot of times, it’s hard to see water over the road until it’s too late,” he said.
“We need to be mindful that when we hear that alert for flash flooding, we really must avoid driving. And if nothing else, we need to be aware that we can find ourselves in water fairly quickly,” Perkins said.
Perkins said that drought conditions elevate the risk of flash floods. He warned those who recently moved to the area that flash flood warnings should be taken seriously.
“In Central Texas, we used to really refer to it as the Flash Flood Alley,” Perkins said. “We’ve had a lot of people move here. And so flash flooding, and what is typically seen in this area, might be a really new thing for people.”
What to do if you find yourself in a flash flood
If you are out on the road during extreme weather and find yourself stuck in water, Perkins said to dial 911. Second, if you are able to, try to get on the roof of your car to make yourself visible.
“That’s difficult for some people based on their physical status and how they’re able to maneuver,” Perkins said. “But we want you to want to make yourself visible… So when we get there, we can locate you as soon as possible and get to you.”