Mt. Vernon Register-News

July 3, 2013

Responders urge caution on flooded roads



MT. VERNON — About 5 inches of rain fell on Jefferson Count in a 48 hour period, causing flooding of roads, fields and yards across the area.

"By radar, we have about 5 1/2 inches since June 30 through July 2 at 6 a.m.," said David Blanchard of the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky.

Blanchard said from noon on Tuesday to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of rain fell in Jefferson County by radar estimates.

The deluge has caused flooding on many roadways in the county, and Illinois Route 15 west of Mt. Vernon was closed by the Illinois Department of Transportation on Tuesday after water went over the bridge located west of Sparrow Lane.

"It's going to take a while to go down," said an IDOT worker at the scene. "We just don't want anyone trying to go through it."

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Maj. Scott Burge said the office urges all motorists to avoid flooded roadways.

"Never drive through water running across a road," Burge said. "When an area is additionally identified as a flood area, do not enter the water or go around barricades. We have people who still wnt to drive around barricades."

Burge said heavy vehicles and farm implements are just as prone to being swept off a flooded road as a smaller car or truck.

Deputies have been out patrolling areas such as Liberty Road and Hall Lane, which are typical flood areas.

"Not only is the water crossing the road, but especially on Hall Lane, you have ditches that drop off 6 to 8 feet," Burge said. "A vehicle can get swept off into a ditch and people can get pinned underwater. ... We've had fatalities in that area before and don't want another."

Burge said even if a roadway is not under water, motorists should slow down and use caution when driving in any inclement weather.

Jefferson Fire Protection District Chief Mike Huntman said with the amount of rainfall in Jefferson County, additional roads are flooded in addition to the usual roadways such as Illinois Route 15 west of Mt. Vernon, State Route 37 south in the Bakerville Bottoms north of Gamefarm ROad, Driver's Lane, Liberty Road and Chestnut Lane.

"Try to find another route around those areas," Huntman advised. "Don't drive through the water even if it doesn't look too deep. It may look like the water is only inches deep, but the road can wash out under the water and you can't know about what's under there."

Huntman also said people should avoid wading in flood waters.

"You just don't know if there's a hole, a manhole or a dropoff," Huntman said. "And that water can pull you off your feet. The water can push a car off the road, and it can pull your legs out from under you."