46ºF

Study: Flash flood-related deaths decreasing

Texas still leads nation in number of deaths

As the one-year anniversary of one of the worst floods central San Antonio has experienced approaches, a new report finds that flood-related deaths are on a downward trend. 

In May of 2013, three people lost their lives when the floodwaters overtook areas near downtown San Antonio.

Texas leads the nation in flood-related deaths and Bexar County leads Texas in the same category.

However, when the statistics are taken per capita, the number of deaths is lower than other parts of the country and now, may be decreasing.

The decrease is being called "statistically significant."

The new study is authored by associate professor Hatim Sharif, and graduate students Terrance Jackson and Dr. Moazzem Hossain of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

David Zane, an epidemiologist for the Texas Department of State Health Services, also contributed.

As for the reasons for the decrease, the authors cite public awareness and campaigns.

National Weather Service campaigns like "Turn Around, Don't Drown" have proved to be effective.

Earlier warnings, education and road closures all were found to have a positive impact as well.

The study notes that May is the month with the most fatalities, while an area known as "Flash Flood Alley," which includes San Antonio, leads Texas in flood deaths.

Males were also found to be more than twice as likely to become flood fatality victims as females.

Improvements in infrastructure may have also played role.

"Several years ago, commissioners court identified approximately $2 billion worth of flood control needs," said Bexar County Engineer Renee' Green.

From there, a joint, 10-year, $500 million flood-control program was hatched.

"HALT" (High Water Lifesaving Technology) was one byproduct.

The system alerts drivers of high water at different locations throughout the county.

Improvements, according to the county, have saved property owners millions of dollars.

The ultimate goal, however, is to prevent flood-related deaths.

"My goal is zero [deaths]," said Green. "So that's what I would like to see. We're going to continue to work until we get there."


About the Author: