Sandy floods roads, saves worst for New England

Published 10:07 pm Monday, October 29, 2012

Effects from Hurricane Sandy are likely to continue throughout Tuesday, but officials agree the worst of the storm is over for Hampton Roads.

“Hampton Roads has experienced, we believe, the peak of the storm, although they still have about 24 hours of rain and wind left,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a press conference at 1:15 p.m. Monday.

By 2 p.m. Monday, the storm had dumped an average of 3.75 inches of rain on Suffolk, with higher totals being recorded in North Suffolk. Almost 4.5 inches were measured near Driver, while fewer than 3 inches were recorded near Whaleyville.

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Officials had urged people to stay inside, and traffic accident data from throughout the state largely indicated they had. The number of accidents reported by Virginia State Police was not much greater than a normal October weekend, McDonnell said.

“I thank the citizens for their prudence and common sense,” McDonnell said, adding there had been no Virginia fatalities from the storm at the time of the press conference.

Flooding in certain areas was, as usual, the primary concern in the city. Nearly 30 locations had high water on Monday, but most were passable with caution. The notable exception was North Main Street in the Kimberly area, where the Nansemond River washed over the road during each high tide cycle.

The highest wind gust measured in the city was at the Emergency Operations Center on King’s Fork Road, which recorded it at 38 miles per hour at 2:35 p.m. Monday.

Damage reported in Suffolk was minimal. One limb fell on a house Saturday but wasn’t reported until Sunday, city spokesman Tim Kelley said on Monday.

Power outages in Suffolk had also been minimal until Monday evening, when more than 2,000 in the Crittenden, Driver and Sleepy Hole areas lost power. There was no word from officials at press time Monday on what caused the outage. Most of the affected homes were restored within an hour.

In Eclipse, Ben Johnson of Johnson and Son Seafood was relieved there had not yet been any damage to his waterfront buildings, which have suffered in past hurricanes.

The Virginia Department of Health closed most of Virginia’s waterways to shellfish harvesting as a precaution, but it came at a good time for Johnson and his father Robbie, who own the business. They were already in the process of modifying their boats for the annual switch from blue crab season to oyster season, which typically takes a few days. The length of the closure will depend on the amount of rain and the potential for runoff, he said.

“We’re actually right in the middle” of switching seasons, Johnson said. “It’s not a bad time.”

Near a flooded portion of Wilroy Road, a sewer line belonging to the Hampton Roads Sanitation District burst Monday and spewed into the marshy Shingle Creek area.

HRSD spokeswoman Nancy Munnikhuysen said crews responded and “are doing everything they can to control the release of wastewater and minimize potential impact to the roadway.”

The 30-inch concrete pipe was under water through most of the afternoon and evening because of the elevated tide conditions, she said. An engineering firm and contractor will conduct full repairs once the tide subsides. It was not immediately clear whether the initial break was because of the storm.

McDonnell on Monday requested a federal emergency declaration to help Virginia’s state and local governments cover the costs of emergency response and debris removal. Assessments on damage to private property will come after the storm and could result in a separate disaster assistance request for individuals, according to a news release from McDonnell’s office.