Okmulgee County Warns Residents To 'Turn Around, Don't Drown'
OKMULGEE COUNTY, Oklahoma - We're entering tornado season in Oklahoma, and we all know how dangerous it can be. But flooding actually kills more people than tornados, wind storms, hurricanes and lightning. Most of those deaths are people in vehicles that are swept away.
One county is trying to prevent those tragedies from happening.
With Oklahoma's severe weather season here, signs are going up in several parts of Okmulgee County, urging people to turn around, don't drown.
Okmulgee County's emergency management director, Tim Craighton, said it's an important point to get across.
"A lot of people still drive into flooding waters," Craighton said.
Craighton said it's risky, and not worth it. So signs are going up in several parts of the county that are prone to flooding, including in Dewar.
On an ordinary spring day a creek may not look threatening, but it can suddenly change. Glenn Barnett saw it happen last June.
"This water out in here, it got, like, this deep, to some guys out here wading around," Barnett said.
That was when 56 houses in Dewar got water damage after seven inches of rain fell in a 12 hour period. The ground was already very saturated.
"The water can't go anywhere, so it backs up," Barnett said.
The floodwater got two feet deep inside some homes. It takes only six inches of water to sweep a car off the road.
"Six inches of water is not that much, and we've had three feet through here," said Craighton.
Craighton said, not only do drivers often needlessly risk their own lives, they endanger others.
"If rescue workers have to come get them, then they're endangering them also," said Craighton.
So the signs are being posted, with the hope that drivers follow the advice, find another way around, and make a decision that could save their life.
Okmulgee County and Dewar are putting the signs up in areas that obviously are prone to flooding, but also at strategic spots where there is a high traffic count.