As storm moves north, Hampton Roads braces for rain and flooding – The Virginian-Pilot

Storm response preparations were underway on Hampton Roads on Thursday as the region braced for several days of rain and flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ian.

The Category 5 storm ripped off roofs, swept away vehicles and caused record flooding as it hit Florida’s southwest coast. It has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, but is expected to revert to a hurricane before making landfall in South Carolina on Friday.

Hampton Roads is not expecting this level of damage from Ian, but state agencies, city governments and other groups are still preparing for high winds, heavy rains and potential flooding from Friday to Monday.

Cities across Hampton Roads could see up to 4 inches of rain by Friday evening and another 2 to 4 inches over the weekend as a locked northeast cold front combines with the remnants of Ian. Coastal areas can experience wind gusts of up to 55 mph through Saturday morning, and there is a slight risk of tornadoes. Between rain, wind and tides, there is a moderate risk of widespread flooding in low-lying areas.

Public works crews from towns across the region mobilized on Thursday, with workers pre-fitting equipment to remove downed trees and clear drains and ditches.

Meanwhile, Virginia State Police have placed all available personnel on standby for emergency deployment across the Commonwealth. Search and recovery team divers are pre-deploying based on rainfall forecasts and vulnerable flood zones, according to the agency’s statement.

Kristopher Dumschat, communications manager for the American Red Cross in Virginia, said several Commonwealth volunteers have already been sent to Florida. Other volunteers are ready to help in Virginia.

Red Cross volunteers provide various types of assistance, including medical services, meal delivery and mental health support, he said. An emergency response vehicle at the Red Cross’ Norfolk office is also ready for deployment, he said.

“They will drive around communities delivering different meals or drive to a fixed point where people from an affected community can meet,” Dumschat said, adding that the vehicles are also used to deliver cleaning supplies or kits. comforts – which consist of items like blankets and flashlights.

Officials have warned Virginians to be aware of impending storm and flood conditions and to take precautions to stay safe.

“While Hampton Roads may not be in Ian’s direct path, I urge all coastal Virginians to prepare now and make a plan for the potential impacts of sustained rains, severe weather and flooding from tides in our area,” said Representative Elaine Luria. in a report. “I implore everyone in Hampton Roads to follow the instructions of local authorities and stay informed about the weather through forecasts, official resources and the media.”

Governor Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency on Wednesday.

The forecast cone, as early as Thursday morning, from Ian.

State police are urging residents who must travel during the storm to slow their speeds, avoid crossing standing water, and remember that state law requires headlights to be on when the wipers are on. ice creams are used.

Widespread power outages are not currently expected in Virginia, according to Bonita Billingsley Harris, director of media relations for Dominion Energy. However, she said coastal areas, including Norfolk, Virginia Beach and the Peninsula, are most at risk from power outages.

“We always say we hope it doesn’t happen, but hope is not a plan,” she said. “We will be ready just in case; crews are ready to go where we need them most to restore power.

Harris said some of their crews in Virginia were dispatched Thursday to help in South Carolina.

“They’re on their way but we’ve made sure to keep enough to help our customers here,” she said.

Harris added that residents should stay away and immediately report any downed power lines.

To prepare for flooding, Elizabeth River Crossings is temporarily closing the Midtown Tunnel Thursday evening to conduct tidal gate tests. The Westbound Midtown Tunnel will close from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. The Eastbound Tunnel will close from 11 p.m. to 12 a.m.

For more information on road closures or openings, residents can call the Virginia Department of Transportation’s 511 line or visit its website.

The city’s public works crews turned their attention to flooding issues, as the National Weather Service Wakefield predicted low-lying areas could see 2 feet of flooding.

Newport News public works crews began preparing for the storm on Monday and will begin 12-hour shifts on Friday. The city’s sewage division also completed generators and bypass pumps, while the engineering department pre-installed barricades in low-lying areas to block off streets in the event of flooding, the gate said. -word Kim Lee.

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Chesapeake, Newport News and Norfolk cleared or drained storm drains and ditches, targeting low-lying areas prone to flooding, and Hampton mobilized public works trucks and put crews on standby to quickly clear impassable roads.

Portsmouth opened the second floor of its Middle Street and County Street parking garages at 6 p.m. Thursday for anyone needing to move their vehicle from a low area. Vehicles can remain in the garages until Monday 7:00 a.m. Trailers are not permitted and vehicles cannot park in reserved parking spaces.

In Virginia Beach, public works crews prepared for the storm by building sand berms on the beach to protect infrastructure, including parks, steps and ramps. The beachfront city also cleaned storm sewers and made sure stormwater pumping stations were working properly, public works spokesman Drew Lankford said.

“We have teams doing everything we can do in advance,” he said. “A lot of what we do today is making sure the water can flow.”

Staff reporters Joshua Janney, Stacy Parker, Natalie Anderson and Daniel Berti contributed to this report.

Katie King, [email protected]

Caitlyn Burchett, [email protected]

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