The Main Stream

Jun 12, 2012 7:00 PM by Danielle Lerner

Monsoon Safety: Avoiding floodwaters and staying safe on the roads

TUCSON - Monsoon Safety Week continues with a warning for drivers. The intense rainfall can turn roadways into rivers, and it can happen in an instant.

Rural Metro Fire says during a busy monsoon day they will get about 10-15 swiftwater rescue calls. They are reminding everyone that even the smallest amount of water can do a lot to take a car off the road.

They are scenarios many of us hope we never experience ourselves. Cars disappearing into deep floodwaters, drivers stranded, waiting for rescue.

Last summer Andy Cenedella was actually trying to avoid moving water when he turned on to Glenn Street from Tomahawk Trail.

"I looked outside my driver side window and I saw a wall of water at least 20 feet high bearing down on me," Cenedella said. "My headlights never hit that sign. It was full of water but with the reflection of my headlights it looked level."

He lost control of the car, told a friend to call 911 and knew he was in trouble.

"It spun my car around and took me backwards and that was really frightening," he said.

A scene that plays out all across Southern Arizona. Rural Metro Fire Captain John Sims says planning ahead and practicing patience are key during the summer months.

"Pre-plan your route to try to avoid low lying areas during the storms," Sims said. "Also, if there's any flowing water across the road just go head and stop and wait."

Andy totaled the car but lived to tell the story.

"I climbed onto my console here, into the back seat, where high ground was and waited out the storm," he said.

It is one he hopes can be a cautionary tale.

"No matter how good of a driver you are, realize that you have to be fully cognizant of everything around you," said Cenedella.

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