Houston emergency officials warn residents to stay off the roads during storm

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Emergency officials are hoping to prevent drownings by proactively blocking off roads known to flood regularly in Houston. (KTRK)

When heavy rains hit the Houston area, some streets and underpasses are almost guaranteed to flood.

Many of us know exactly which places to avoid, but some drivers still push it to the limit, which has cost them their lives, in some cases.

Houston Public Works crews spent the day being proactive, putting out barricades so that if things get rough overnight, law enforcement can put them up and block off the road if need be.

The goal: keep people from driving into deep water and losing their life.

Most likely roads to flood in and around Houston
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Why avoiding flood water at any level is important

"We've seen unfortunately some loss of life here in the Houston area during these types of rain events, simply because people think that they are smarter than a barricade, that they smarter than a law enforcement officer, they can get around it or their car is big enough, and unfortunately people don't really realize the power of water," says Michael Walter, public information officer for Houston Office of Emergency Management.

We've all seen videos of drivers going straight into high water, and sadly never come up. It can happen in an instant, which is why most people heed the warnings.

"Houstonians, I guess we're more aware now that, you know, it looks like two feet of water, but really, it's like 15 feet of water," driver Tristan Hyde says.

Houston OEM management works closely with TxDOT, Harris County and METRO to monitor the roadways during heavy rain events.

You can too on the Houston Transtar website, but if you can, stay put altogether.

"Especially at night when you have really low visibility, it's really important to pay attention to the roadway conditions," Walter said. "If you don't have to travel tonight, we're just asking people to stay off the roads. It's the safest thing to do."

Houston was designed to "street flood," which means water will collect on the street first in an effort to keep it from going into homes and structures.

It's hard for officials to quantify every single spot in the city that floods, but some of the most vulnerable areas, include:
  • Westpark at 610
  • Memorial at Waugh Drive
  • Highway 288 at MacGregor
  • Crosstimbers at I-45 North Freeway
  • Travis Street at I-10

"It's really important that everyone pays attention to the conditions and everyone avoids putting themselves and our first responders in those situations," Walter said.
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