December 1, 2021 - Today, City Engineer Patrick Zaharako was joined by Rodney Renkenberger, Maumee River Basin Commission Executive Director, to discuss the installation of one of eight “Turn Around Don’t Drown” signs in Fort Wayne on Freeman Street, near Rockhill Park. All of the locations were chosen due to their proximity to Junk Ditch, which is susceptible to flooding.

Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather-related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters because people often underestimate the force and power of water.

When preparing the City’s FFY2017 Flood Mitigation Acquisition Project Application, the Maumee River Basin Commission (MRBC) incorporated an Education/Outreach component as part of the project which allows Fort Wayne and MRBC to join the National Weather Service (NWS) in promoting their “Turn Around Don’t Drown (TADD)” campaign to warn people of the hazards of walking or driving a vehicle through floodwaters. 

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

“Driving through flooded roadways is one of the biggest causes of weather-related fatalities,” said Syracuse, Indiana National Weather Service Lead Forecaster Rachel Cobb. “Hopefully, these signs will help save lives.”

“The City of Fort Wayne is happy to work with the National Weather Service and MRBC to place these safety signs in the Junk Ditch area,” said City Engineer Patrick Zaharako. “This area is one of the first places that is susceptible to riverine flooding. It is our hope that they will save lives and prevent property damage.”

The message these signs display is critical because an individual trapped in one of these flooding situations is literally “on their own” until Emergency responders are notified and then respond, which takes time that the person may not have! 

These warning signs are compliant with the Federal Highway Administration’s regulations. City Engineer Patrick Zaharako determined that signs will be placed at the following locations: Taylor Street, Covington Road, Ardmore Avenue and Freeman Street.