The Journal Gazette
Thursday, December 02, 2021 1:00 am

Flood signs going up near Junk Ditch

'Turn Around' in high-water areas

DEVAN FILCHAK | The Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne Public Works Department will place six signs near Junk Ditch that bear a serious message: “Turn Around Don't Drown.”

Patrick Zaharako, city engineer, and Rodney Renkenberger, Maumee River Basin Commission executive director, met Wednesday at the installation of a sign on Freeman Street near Rockhill Park. The signs will be placed in areas near Junk Ditch, which is susceptible to flooding – Taylor Street, Covington Road, Ardmore Avenue and Freeman.

Each year, more people die because of flooding than from any other severe weather-related hazards, the city said in a news release. Most flooding deaths happen when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water, and the second-highest cause is because of people walking into floodwaters, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is a great example of the power of networking, and (the Maumee River Basin Commission) is pleased to have partnered with Fort Wayne to acquire these signs and bring awareness to the danger of flooded roadways,” Renkenberger said. “It takes 1 to 2 feet of water to carry away a vehicle and only 6 inches to cause loss of control.”

Rachel Cobb, lead forecaster at the National Weather Service's northern Indiana office in Syracuse, said she hopes the signs will help save lives. “Turn Around Don't Drown” is a National Weather Service campaign.

Zaharako said the signs are needed areas around Junk Ditch, which flows from the St. Marys River near Swinney Park to the city's southwest side near Eagle Marsh.

“This area is one of the first places that is susceptible to riverine flooding,” Zaharako said. “It is our hope that they will save lives and prevent property damage.”

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