Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Prof offers lesson on flood danger

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UNIVERSITY of Manitoba Prof. Gordon Giesbrecht teamed up with members of the RCMP dive rescue unit on Monday to demonstrate the dangers of crossing a flooded road.

Giesbrecht, also known as Prof. Popsicle for his work studying survival in the cold, wants people to know it's not the depth of the water you should be worried about when it comes to overland flooding.

"You're not going to drown in your car if it sinks into a foot of water," said Giesbrecht, "but the problem is, with current, it moves it off the road and now you're where you have no control and you're in big trouble."

Giesbrecht also warned not to use your cellphone if you should go under. "You have just frittered away your most opportune time to escape."

For the demonstration, a car was pushed in a section of Alarie Road, covered in less than a metre of water. Alarie Road, near St. Agathe, is where 61-year-old Raymond Stott drowned in his vehicle on April 6. The demonstration car was swept away with the current and sank -- all within two minutes. After the demonstration, Giesbrecht said it "showed us it doesn't take much water to float a vehicle, probably about 18 to 20 inches of water and the vehicle started to float."

Stott's brother, Gary, watched the demonstration.

"I had to take a deep breath and suck it up," he said, adding he had to "look at it from the aspect that I'm doing a job today for the rest of the people out there. "It doesn't look like it's that dangerous, but when you see a re-enactment like this, you can see very quickly the power of that water."

tammy.karatchuk@ freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 19, 2011 A6

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