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New ways to avoid flooding in Amarillo

Many people drove into flooded roads in June during a flash flood. (KVII, Steve Douglass)

Flash flooding caught drivers off guard in June leaving many to swim away from their cars. The City of Amarillo along with Potter and Randall Counties created flood alert strike teams or FLASH teams to keep drivers out of danger.

"This area does flood quickly with a little bit of rain,” said Chip Orton, Amarillo’s emergency management director.

The teams will send vehicles to block flooded roads.

"Our hope is to get out there to alert them before they drive into those flooded area,” said Chris Mitchell, superintendent of streets for the City of Amarillo.

New signs will also warn drivers when they need to turn around.

"Additional advanced warning systems along I-40 to notify people those known flood zones do get impacted by the rains--Bell Street, Washington, all those common places,” said Sonja Gross from TXDOT Amarillo.

Drivers can also download the Ping4Alerts! app to get emergency notifications and keep them far from flooded streets.

"We can draw basically a box around the area we want to warn,” said Orton. “If people are in that box or they enter that box, it alerts them on their phone."

The hope is earlier warning will allow drivers to turn around and avoid high water sooner.

"Problem is people get the warning and they don’t necessarily have a plan or don’t do what they should do,” said Michael Gittinger of the National Weather Service Amarillo. “We see over and over people putting themselves in harm's way even though it's a dangerous situation."

The better prepared, the better off drivers will be.

Anyone can download the Ping4Alerts! app on IPhone or Android. The city said even though the app knows where your phone is, it does not track you or keep a history of your location.

There will also be a free community emergency preparedness event Saturday at the Amarillo Civic Center in the North Exhibit Hall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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