Heavy September Flooding Endangers Cars and Drivers Across US

floodAuto repair shops in Virginia are flooded, in more ways than one.

Heavy rains swept through the state two weeks ago, generating floodwaters that swept across the Hampton Roads area and left hundreds of cars stranded and submerged.

Cars and water are a notoriously bad combination, as the many drivers who tried to make it through the flooded streets quickly found out. Cars stalled quickly, and many of them had to be towed into local repair shops that Tuesday and Wednesday when it was safe to retrieve them.

Robert West of West Service Center told 10Wavy News that his shop and his tow trucks were extremely busy after the flooding. “We’ve probably done well over 175, we were holding 75 calls at a time, we probably still have 50 to go out and get,” employee Chris Fisher told 10Wavy.

According to West, many of the repairs turned out to be major, since car computers are often set lower in the vehicle and can get soaked even in the brief amount of time it takes for drivers to open the door and get out of their vehicle. The mixture of oil and water can also cause a car’s engine to burn up.

West says drivers should avoid going in water any deeper than the bottom of their car.

“When you drive a vehicle into deep water, you create all sorts of electrical problems. Water gets in to where it shouldn’t and damages lots of electrical components. Anything that submerges in water can be shorted out and damaged, if the water is deep enough it can get into the engine itself and create catastrophic damage.” Ray Weatherspoon, Owner, Weatherspoon Automotive.

The dangers of driving in water can be environmental as well. After floods this week in Durango, CO., a drunk driver crashed into a light pole and his car burst into flames. The driver was arrested, but burning gas poured into the flooded street and traveled with the current.

Two people died in Phoenix, AZ after flooding that occurred earlier this month. One of the victims was a woman who was swept away in her car, which became trapped against a bridge. Around the same time, the National Highway Patrol reported five times the usual average for auto accidents when flooding hit Las Vegas, NV.

As fall rains continue to hit parts of the US, drivers should heed road safety warnings and keep their cars off the streets when floods threaten.