KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Over the last few years, East Tennessee and southeast Kentucky has picked up tremendous amounts of rain during February — especially back in 2019. That was the wettest on record for Knoxville with over 13 inches of rain. So far in 2022, we have had more than 9 inches. A “normal” February is around 4 inches.

Did you know that flash flooding situations are in the top 5 causes of weather-related deaths in the United States? This is why it is more important than ever to know what you need to do for your family to stay safe.

We always say, “Turn around, don’t drown.” It is easy to remember but sometimes hard to do. You never want to drive through a flooded area or barricades. It is dangerous and illegal. Tennessee’s reckless driving law applies to flooded roadways and says anyone who passes a barrier or ignores a sign about flooding can be charged.

“Any motor vehicle operator who knowingly ignores a clearly visible and adequate flood warning sign or barricade and drives into a road area that is actually flooded commits reckless driving. In addition to the penalties imposed pursuant to subsection (d), the court may order the operator to pay restitution to defray the taxpayer cost of any rescue efforts related to such violation,” the law states.

Did you know it takes just 6 inches of water to sweep a person away? And a half a foot can also move a large car or SUV. A foot-and-a-half of water can move a large camper.

The National Weather Service issues the following alerts. It is important to remember the difference between a watch and a warning.

  • Flood watch: Conditions are favorable for flooding.
  • Flash flood warning: Flooding is already occurring.
  • Flash flood warning: An alert about a sudden violent flood following a heavy rain. Flash floods can take place within minutes or hours.
  • Flood warning: A gradual rise in water levels over time. This type of flooding is more impacted by streams, creeks and rivers. It can take a while for this water to recede.

Make sure you and your family are prepared in the event of a flood. Know your risk. Is your home in a floodplain or an area that floods regularly during heavy rain? Information about whether your home is in a floodplain should be on the deed. You can also check online or at the office in your county where property records are maintained. Also, be sure to check if you need additional flood insurance, even if you are a renter.

There are steps to take to mitigate flooding, such as clearing storm drains near your home before it rains.

Lastly, always be sure to fully charge your phone and other mobile devices in case of emergency. There could be disruption in power.