Turn Around, Don’t Drown

Corporal Cindy Lopez, Lakeway Police Department
LMUD Open House presentation, October 18, 2023

In October 2018, Lakeway City Park was under water. It seems like a far cry from where we are today, but that’s Texas for ya: if you don’t like the weather, it might change in 5 minutes. Right now there may be a drought, but quickly there might be a flood. We do everything bigger here in Texas and that includes the weather!

Turn Around Don’t Drown (TADD) was a campaign launched in May 2003 (created by an Austinite) through the National Weather Service to warn people of the hazards of walking or driving a vehicle through flood waters. It’s an important campaign because each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather-related hazard. Half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to people walking into or near flood waters.

We all see the yellow signs anywhere there is a potential of flooding warning us “When flooded, turn around, don’t down.”

3 main low water crossings in Lakeway

In Lakeway, we have three main low water crossings that may be barricaded during floods (Ranking of 1 to 5 with 1 being the lowest and 5 being highest potential for flooding)

  • Top O The Lake/Coldwater: Ranking 2
  • Lakeway Blvd.- 2200-2300 Blk @ Lake Chandon: Ranking 3
  • Lakeway Drive – 1410 Lakeway Drive: Ranking 4
  • Other areas may flood as well, depending on construction in the area or other situations that impact waterflow.

If you come to a barricade, don’t move them! They are there for your safety. Flooding is so dangerous because people underestimate the force and power of the water.

You think it’s clear, until it isn’t. It doesn’t take much water:

6 inches of water

a person can be swept away, lose control of a car, vehicle can stall

12 inches (1 foot) of water

car/SUV can be swept away

18 inches of water

large vehicle can be swept away

When you chance it, you are not only putting your life in danger, but also the lives of our first responders. As an example, about nine years ago, an officer for Travis County who was a professional dive swimmer, went into floodwaters to help someone. Her body wasn’t found until the next day.

If you are caught driving in heavy rain:

  • If visibility is reduced, turn on your headlights and reduce your speed.
  • Keep your eye out for changing conditions, which can happen quickly.
  • Never drive through a road covered in large volumes of water because you could be swept away and it’s impossible to see debris like fallen branches below the surface.
  • In extreme conditions, get to higher ground, away from streams and culverts and wait for conditions to improve.
  • Be especially vigilant at night when it’s harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Pay attention to your car, keep your tires well maintained.
  • If you have difficulty driving, use your hazards and pull to the side of the road or stay at a gas station until it passes.
  • If you do become trapped by the flood, stay calm and call 911 or signal for help.

If you are caught in a flooding area:

  • If it seems like your home will flood significantly, shut off water, gas, and electric services.
  • Listen to public officials for current emergency information and instructions: the National Weather Service is helpful as well as Voyent for alerts from the City of Lakeway.
  • Act quickly: save yourself, don’t worry about your belongings.
  • Do not attempt to cross flowing streams .
  • Have a pre-planned meeting place with family and friends in case cell service or other communication is down.

Remember the jingle and head the warning signs: Play it smart, play it safe. Whether driving or walking, any time you come to a flooded road, turn around, don’t drown!