I’ve worked with FEMA during floods and other disasters for over twenty years now. I’ve seen some pretty extensive damage that was done by hurricanes and tornadoes but the most impressive force in nature, by far, is water. Water is going to do some damage when it gets a notion to start moving over what we’ve laid claim to as our own. Flooding kills more people every year than any other natural disaster. Tell people a building is on fire and they’ll hurt you trying to get out of it. These same people will sit in a house that’s flooding and try to ride it out.
Recently there were some roads closed in South Georgia due to localized flooding due to some really heavy rains. Universally, when you have someone out manning barricades, and these barricades all have signs attached to them that read “ROAD CLOSED” there will be people who stop and ask, “Is this road closed?”
As far as I know, and like I said I’ve been doing this for twenty years or so, no one has ever been so bored they decided to drag a bunch of barricades into the road just to sit there and tell people the road isn’t actually closed. Maybe I’ve lived a sheltered life or maybe they do it different somewhere else but as far as I can tell, when there is a disaster and the road is underwater, yes, in point of fact, the road is closed.
Oh, and here’s something you might want to research before you decide that some guy wearing an orange vest has no right to tell you where you can and where you cannot ride; there is a law that states anyone who is legally directing traffic shall be legally recognized by motorists and anyone who goes around a barricade or ignores directions from such a person can be fined.
Here are a few things I’ve heard over the years:
“I want to go see the water.” (Go somewhere else. Most barricades are set up to detour traffic and water tourists tend to make other people think the road is open)
“I want to take some pictures of the water” (Go somewhere else. Most barricades are set up to detour traffic and water tourists tend to make other people think the road is open)
“My truck is big enough to go through the water” ( And if you’re wrong guess who has to help rescue you)
“You aren’t a cop. You can’t stop me” (No, but that water sure as hell can and it will. Eighteen inches of water will float most cars and the smaller cars float faster)
“Have you guys gotten anything to eat yet?” (Okay, some people are actually human beings and will try to help emergency workers out. You’d be surprised at how many people will bring treats to workers who have been pulling eighteen hour shifts in disasters. I had a crew that was invited into someone’s home to get dry clothes and warm food. The man loaded them clothes while theirs was in the dryer.)
In July of 1992, two children were drowned when their father decided to drive around a barricade in Albany Georgia. He has to live with that for the rest of his life. The man who put the barricade out has to live with it to. Did he not put it in the right location? Did he not have it where it could be read? Were the ROAD CLOSED signs not convincing enough?
Please. During times of deep water and heavy rain, the people trying to get motorists from Point A to Point B have all they can handle. The road is closed.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.