TAZEWELL, VA (WVNS) — The National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Virginia dedicated Tuesday to flood preparedness for the ongoing Severe Weather Awareness Week campaign. According to the National Center for Environmental Information, flooding in 2021 cost over 3,000 lives and over $1 Billion dollars in the U.S.

This making spring flooding a deadly event emergency responders in Tazewell County are preparing for this year. Tazewell County 911 Director Randy Davis said her job and the job of her emergency personnel are always aided by the public.

“You know, someone might say, well, there’s a tree down and we’ll ask them what comes will ask you is, is the roadblock that you always puts on for 60 hour both lanes block and then get around it,” said Randy Davis, the Tazewell County 911 Director.

Of the 3,000 lives lost to flooding in 2021, over half were of people in their cars. Alerting emergency personnel of flooded roadways or current hazards near you could prevent some from becoming flood victims this year. The saying “Don’t Drown, Turn Around” is also a good reminder. You never know what could be under the flood waters so it’s best to avoid them at all costs.

“Driving through flooded roadways is probably the worst thing you could possibly do. I know a lot of people come to that water on the road and think, man if I have to go around this its going to add an extra 10 or 15 minutes to my commute. Well, if you go through it its going to take, you know, potentially take some years off your life so its very important to make sure you turn around and never drive through that water covered roadway,” said Stormtracker 59 Chief Meteorologist Heidi Moore.

“One of the big things, usually once you get a lot of heavy rain, there’s usually a lot of gusty winds associated with it that could lead to broken power lines and snap lines. Those could easily end up in the water and that’s a quick way to get electrocuted. So make sure. Another good reason to stay out of the water,” said Stormtracker 59 Meteorologist Liam Healy.

As for flooding, Davis says to know your surroundings before the rains come. In Tazewell, situational awareness could be the difference between life and death in floods.

One key feature in flooding is always topography and in Virginia, it’s different no matter where you are. You can find yourself on top of some rocky soils or on the side of a mountain. All that water has got to go somewhere. And usually that’s the lowest point in the valley.

It’s also important to plan ahead, using dry times like these to map multiple escape routes if needed. Having more than 1 escape route now means less panic when the floods come up to your door ste

When you’re planning your exit routes, it’s always good to remember flash flooding can occur at any time. That is when water’s rise fast at any given point. So when you hear a flash flood warning has been issued, it might be a good idea to make sure your exit routes are not blocked and monitor conditions around you and your property carefully.

As Severe Weather Awareness Week in Virginia continues, always know where to go for weather information and have at least 3 ways to get it. The StormTracker 59 App and a NOAA Weather Radio are great examples.

If you’d like to help emergency responders and your community when severe weather strikes, The National Weather Service in Blacksburg is hosting Skywarn Storm Spotter classes all spring long. These classes will train everyday folks on what to look for, what to report, and to whom. Find more information on these classes, here.