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Sudden, heavy rains swamp east Orange County

Sudden, heavy rains swamp east Orange County
A Snapchat user in Orlando posted videos of vehicles making their way through flooded roads near the intersection of Maguire and S.R. 50 late Wednesday afternoon.

Heavy downpours flooded roads Wednesday throughout east Orange County, stranding some motorists in waist-deep water.

Orange County Fire/Rescue crews fished nine people from six cars at Ensenada Drive and El Prado near the Econlockhatchee Trail, spokesman Mike Jachles said.

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He said the rescued motorists included a mom with a small boy.

No injuries were reported.

The depth of the flood waters was measured by fire Lt. Ryan Williams, who stands six feet tall and had water up to his waist.

Flooding also prompted Orange County Public Works to peer into drainage systems in several areas but the review found no blockages.

A torrential storm cell over the area “overwhelmed” the drainage system, county spokeswoman Kelly Finkelstein said.

“Water is receding however our staff is reviewing the area for any obstructions,” she wrote.

The National Weather Service cited data from several rain gauges south of State Road 50 in east Orange with more than four inches. One had more than five inches.

“It’s an abnormal amount,” said Jessie Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Station in Melbourne.

“It doesn’t matter sometimes how well your drainage system is functioning, it still has limited [processing] capacity,” she said.

Heavy rain over a short period can overburden a drainage system temporarily and cause street flooding.

Smith said the forecast for the rest of the work week includes more thunderstorms capable of spawning heavy rains.

Orange County Fire Rescue tweeted about the rescues about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Jachles urged motorists driving into flooded roads to heed the advice: “Turn around, don’t drown.”

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows more than half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into high flood water.

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Jachles said it’s often impossible to tell how deep the water is.

According to the CDC, people underestimate the force and power of water. Many deaths occur in cars swept downstream.

Jachles said motorists should never drive around barriers blocking a flooded road as the pavement may have collapsed under that weight of the water.

Rain also caused problems in other areas, including Avalon Park and Colonial Drive near Maguire Road, where videos of flooding were posted on Twitter.

During the mid-day rains, the National Weather Service in Melbourne issued a flood advisory that called for very heavy rain due to thunderstorms over east Orange and north Brevard counties. The warning predicted flooding.

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