Flash flood traps woman in car in West Roxbury

Flooding in West Roxbury

So those flash-flood warnings around 9:30 a.m. were for real. Sean Woods photographed a woman trapped by floodwaters on Spring Street by the Shaw's parking lot. Boston firefighters rushed to the scene to rescue her.

State Police shut 128 at Rte. 9 due to flooding. And cars were trapped by flood waters on Great Plain Avenue and Weston Road in Wellesley. Ed Grzyb reports:

Got caught in major flooding with small tree down on Route 9 West near 128 - Wellesley/ Newton area.

Back at Spring Street, the driver of a 36 bus turned around before the flood, as Mikhaela Houston shows:

36 bus turns around at flood.

Mikhaela Houston shows us the flood waters receded when somebody from the DPW arrived to pull the stopper:

DPW worker at Spring Street. Photo by Mikhaela Houston.

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Comments

It's always flooded there

By on

Dating back to the early 60s I can remember this area has always flooded and the drains get backed up. It was not always as obvious however.

If you look carefully, there is a large granite wall across from the Shaw's driveway. This is where the railroad bridge used to be. The track connected to the Needham branch, ran behind Bojacks, over Spring Street, and up along Bell Ave. From there behind the shops on Rt 1 and into the Dedham Mall Parking lot, eventually connecting to a "Y" (wye) by the Staples. That "wye" is now the soccer field. This used to be the main line and is the route traveled by the infamous Bussey Street Rail disaster train as it traveled into Boston from Dedham. A lot has been rebuilt of course over time.

In those days the bridge created a shadow and it was hard to see the pooled water and that caught many cars unexpectedly.

Apparently it still does from time to time.

Trapped?

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Was she 2 ft tall or just scared of getting wet?

If she was a typical age for WRox...

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...ie about 65, she could trip and hurt herself quite badly trying to get out and walk uphill over the uneven asphault. Or she could be actually be unable/unwilling to get out at all, and end up getting exposure from sitting in a wet cold car.

I admit that the level of water where the car is resting seems pretty minor to my eye, and she never should have tried to push that little car through a flooded street in the first place. But something obviously happened - look at how tilted the car is - the road there is not sloped that strongly to the outside. Maybe she was leaving the Shaw's lot, didn't realize that the water was so deep, hit one of the many curbs and berms that infest that intersection, and mashed up a tire.

If there were fires to put out, I'd hope the fire dept would take care of that first. But if they're not doing that, I think it's completely reasonable for them to be helping out people from jams like this (imagine if a line came down nearby - zap!).

Don't worry about BFD

If there were fires to put out, I'd hope the fire dept would take care of that first.

The FD is called to respond to almost all public emergencies irrespective of flames or smoke. They have equipment to rescue people in almost any condition. If the woman was stuck they were right to respond.

But more importantly the department keeps shifting manpower and equipment so that all areas are covered equally. If two nearby houses get called to incidents, a more distant company will move their trucks into one of the now-empty firehouse of the first responders so that the general geographic area will still have coverage. It's a good system which ensures that no one's house goes up in flames because the nearest firehouse was busy responding to another call.

Doesn't take much

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Swiftly moving water six inches deep can knock you down. I know this from personal experience -- I am reasonably athletic, reasonably outdoorsy, and reasonably water-savvy and have been smacked onto my arse, hard, wading across shallow streams.

Don't underestimate floodwater

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The water in flooded areas like this looks deceptively calm. There is often a wicked current -- surely you have seen videos of cars being moved by floodwater. Often, to exit the car means losing your footing and drowning. This can happen even if the water is only several inches deep, much less a couple of feet.

I have been in a New England parking lot that flooded like this, to a depth of only 3 or 4 inches -- not even enough to make it to the bottom of the door. I saw no fewer than three people take a step out of their cars and lose their balance. Luckily, it was a quick squall, and the water quickly drained into the storm drain, and I was able to wait the 20 minutes or so until the flood subsided.

Rapidly rising water can strand you, too

Not only is there possibly a current, the water may be rising fast enough that a "puddle" becomes a too-deep lake in a very short period of time.

ALSO, beware of downed power lines in the water.

I remember a memorable picture from the 1996 floods, where there were two nearly identical jeep Cherokee vehicles stranded where the Lower Mystic Lake comes up along the road. They were positioned such that it looked as though they had turned onto Mystic Valley Parkway from a side street without knowing how bad the flooding was.

I understand how the first driver may have misjudged the situation or gotten caught in rapidly rising waters ... but what was the second driver thinking?

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Thanks for posting Adam!

The moral of this thread is "Turn around, don't drown..."

An almost PSA from a National Weather Service Skywarn Spotter. :)