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Editorial: Why does it never rain but it pours?

Unlike John the Baptist, who announced the coming of Jesus by pouring just a few drops of water out of a shell over his followers’ heads, the skies decided to announce the coming of autumn, yet again, with bucketful upon bucketful of rain falling on this tiny rock in a very short time.

What irks me though is that although forewarned, precisely forecast and well predicted by our meteorologists in Luqa, this annual end-of-summer shower produced more than 45mm of rain in a morning and havoc and mayhem on our roads.

Interventions by the Resources Ministry to clean and repair valleys and reservoirs ahead of these expected rains were not enough, it seems.

Even though such a storm is as sure as death at this time of the year we always seem to get caught out with our pants down. Year in year out, we get floods in the same areas around Marsa, Birkirkara, Msida and Qormi, and all we have done as far as my memory goes was a botched attempt by the late Dom Mintoff to build water outlets opposite the Msida parish church, which had exactly the adverse effect, and a siren in Birkirkara to warn us that the skies were ready to throw all their wickedness onto us.

This is not even a case of too little, too late, because in my opinion absolutely nothing has been done to solve this flooding problem, which is also putting many a life at risk. To quote my children, it’s a total ‘fail’ on the part of the Administration.

The government knows this too well. Last year it was announced that a major flood relief project, which was to involve a system of galleries to carry the water from Birkirkara, Balzan and other areas instead of having it flow to Msida, was in the pipeline (pun intended).

What’s become of this project is a mystery to me as much as it is to the Msida mayor who recently called for this project to be initialised. Surely we can do better than this!

And as I hear Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi telling the crowds on the Granaries in Floriana that the tunnel linking Malta to Gozo is still a possibility (I would rather we sort out other road infrastructural problems first) here are 10 tips I researched that make for safer driving in the wet:

1. Slow down! It takes longer to stop or adjust in wet weather.

2. Maintain proper following distance.

3. Drive in the tracks of a car ahead of you.

4. Don’t follow large trucks or busses too closely.

5. Watch out for brake lights in front of you.

6. Avoid using your brakes; if possible, take your foot off the accelerator to slow down.

7. Turn your headlights on even in a light rain.

8. Never drive through moving water if you can’t see the ground through it; your car could be swept off the road.

9. When driving through a puddle of uncertain depth, go slow. If it’s deeper than the bottom of your doors, turn around and find another route. Deep water can cause serious damage to a modern car’s electrical system.

10. Avoid splashing pedestrians.

Also, driving in the rain demands a more gentle use of the main controls – steering, clutch, brake and accelerator – and a larger allowance for errors and emergencies.

Make sure your tyres are up to scratch and your wipers are in good working order.

Avoid fogging of your windscreen by turning up the heat and direct the airflow to your defrosters with the air-conditioner switch engaged.

In flooded areas proceed slowly and avoid making large waves in the water.

Engage first gear and keep the engine running fast by releasing the clutch just enough to partially engage gear and giving more acceleration than usual. (see also Hugh Arnett’s Car Torque on page 12).

Above all, use common sense and drive safely.

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