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Motorists Must Face Up To Dangers Of Submerged
Hazards Such As Big Rocks And Even Tree Trunks

Coastweek -- I continue with matters flooding, writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.

For motorists, when faced with flooding there is almost always choices available.

It is not often that one wakes up to find that their vehicle is sitting in a pool of water that was not there the night before.

Rare but happens.

More often the motorist comes face to face with flooding as they are driving along.

Choices that become available many.

The first is that one can take the flooding head on and cautiously continue to cross the water.

If it is a stationary pool of water, the risks one has to consider are simple – depth of water and submerged hazards.

The daring drivers will put their vehicles into the stagnant pool of water and hope that they can get across.

Generally, the surrounding terrain will indicate what the approximate depth of water could be.

However, one runs the risk that there could be a drain or similar depression hidden somewhere in the water so that the car could get submerged beyond what the driver estimated causing it to ingest water or result in the electricals getting drenched.

In both instances that car would then stall in the middle of the pool.

The other danger is submerged hazards such as rocks tree trunks or other large hard objects.

These could cause the vehicle to lose full grip as some of the tyres will be not have full contact.

Alternatively, the vehicle could ride on top of the submerged object resulting in a portion of the vehicle rubbing against the object or the tyres coming off the ground.

With insufficient traction, the vehicle will not be able to move.

Second choice is to wait until the flooding subsides.

Without the benefit of local knowledge this could be a long affair. 

What I have witnessed (and also been part of the situation) is where one arrives at a flooded location and there is one driver there who has decided to wait.

On asking them, they say that in the time they have been waiting there the water level has gone down by a certain amount.

The bystanders also confirm that this is the case.

One chooses to sit it out in the comfort that they have company of a more knowledgeable person – corroborated by the locals.

Soon other people arrive and they are informed of the same thing and they take comfort in the numbers and wait.

The number swells and eventually one person gets impatient. This person asks the drivers of other vehicles to move so that he can get across.

Those who have been requested cooperate do so quickly because they want a rapid resolution to their problem - someone to test the water so they can decide on what to do.

The impatient driver then comes through the gap and accelerates and drives at speed through the water with spectacular spray of water and several things can happen.

The car could stop in the middle of the water as a result of the mechanics and electrics of the car getting compromised or some mechanical stop under the water. 

Alternatively, the driver could successfully get across in the spectacular fashion and then continue on their way.

The third one is where there is a flowing body of water and the vehicle gets carried away by the water even as it is driving across the water body.

In many instances especially in towns and peri urban areas, there are alternative routes that one can take so flooding is not a major issue.

The problems that face urban dwellers is when one gets marooned between two flooded locations so that taking alternative routes is not an option.

The other oddity around flooding or rain and urban areas is the propensity to crowd.

Whenever there is any rain it surprising how quickly roads get clogged by cars and travelling times are doubled or even tripled.

The same happens with human foot traffic. Areas get crowded as people travel slower or stop to take refuge.

When the downpour is lengthy or short and intense, the period after the rain stops is marked by continued delay as traffic – both vehicular and human – wait for the water to subside and for movement paths to become available.

It sometimes takes several days for our cities and towns to recover from heavy downpours.

In all this time patience is a necessary virtue but one should also be acutely aware that waiting in one spot could be the worst thing to do especially when flash flooding is a very likely happening.

As Kachumbari says, time is of essence in many circumstances.




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