Friday, September 04, 2015

UTSA offers insight from first floodwater research study conducted in Texas

Flood

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(May 19, 2010)--Hatim Sharif, an assistant professor in the UTSA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, wishes motorists would take floodwater crossings seriously.

Through two-and-a-half years of research, Sharif and his students, undergraduate Nneoma Duru-onweni and graduate students Terrance Jackson and Moazzem Hossain, learned that driving through a flooded intersection is the primary cause of Texas storm-related deaths. Texas also is the only state in the nation where people die from flood-related deaths every year.

According to the researchers, more people die in floodwater crossings in Texas than in any other state. Since Texas started counting, 839 people have died in floodwater-related incidents. By contrast, 265 people have died in floodwaters in second-ranked Pennsylvania over the same time period.

Texas may have so many flood-related deaths because drivers have difficulty discerning the depth of flooded intersections, especially at night or when it is still raining. Sharif also believes many drivers never see the yardsticks that mark a flood crossing. Those who do, he says, just don't know how to read them.

Unfortunately, in Texas, building bridges over flood crossings is not cost-effective because of alternating wet and dry seasons. Instead, Sharif recommends the city install floodwater gates at flooded intersections, much like railroad crossing gates. Sharif also believes flood-related fatalities would diminish if Texas conducted a public education campaign to make residents and visitors aware of the dangers posed by floodwaters.

"If you see six inches of floodwater, you need to turn around," said Sharif. "And, trucks and SUVs are not necessarily an exception. Our research shows it doesn't matter what kind of vehicle you drive. Floodwaters don't discriminate."

Sharif's research also indicates that a motorist's chances of dying in a flood-related incident are reduced 50 percent if a woman is in the car. That's regardless of whether she's a driver or a passenger.

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How motorists can stay safe in a flood

  • Stay put during heavy rain if you can. Driving during a storm only increases your chances of danger.
  • Slow down if you're forced to drive during rains.
  • Pay careful attention to highway exits that are prone to flooding.
  • Don't assume you know the roads. An undeveloped area responds to floods differently than a developed area, which is prone to flooding because concrete restricts water absorption.
  • Pay attention to television and radio flood warnings. They're broadcasted for a reason.
  • Remember that flooding dangers may remain two to three hours after the rain stops.

 

 

Did You Know?

UTSA writes the book on all-digital libraries

As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.

At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.

Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.

With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.

Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.

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