Cleanup begins

Published 4:13 pm Sunday, October 9, 2016

Suffolk residents began cleaning up Sunday from Hurricane Matthew.

Many spent the day cleaning up limbs, arranging for removal of fallen trees, retrieving cars disabled by flooding or just walking around marveling at the damage — all under an unbelievably clear, blue sky by early afternoon.

Tiffany Smallwood was one of those retrieving her car from where she had abandoned it in the midst of rising floodwaters on Saturday night.

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“It was so strong,” she said, standing on East Washington Street and looking at her car, still surrounded by water. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Smallwood was taking a friend home from work and was driving near John F. Kennedy Middle School. Suddenly, a gray car in front of her stalled and floated to the side. She tried to turn around, but unfortunately it was too late for her, as well.

“It just seemed like the current picked up so fast,” she said. She and her friend bailed out of the car with water swirling around their calves from a rapidly rising creek that now crossed the road.

When her husband got to the car later and waded in to retrieve the keys, it was up to his hips, she said. Smallwood had hoped the car would start after it had a chance to dry out, but when she saw creek water in her cupholders, she knew that wasn’t going to happen.

“That was my baby,” she said. “I got that car with three miles on it.”

Farther downtown, Corey Bamlton returned to his house off North Main Street in the middle of the storm to find a large branch had fallen on the roof and cracked it.

“It was coming through where the cracks are,” he said, walking around downtown and looking at the Nansemond flooding. “We put buckets all over the floor.”

Reminded that meteorologists had said Hurricane Matthew would turn south of Virginia and head out to sea, Bamlton scoffed.

“It turned right on us,” he said.

Hampton Roads was hammered by the storm that many had thought would not affect the area that badly. But the storm interacted with an upper-level trough that swept its effects over a wider area, despite the fact the center of the storm remained offshore.

About 11 inches of rain fell in some parts of Suffolk, according to the National Weather Service.

While the storm is gone, the effects will still be felt for several days.

A flood warning is in effect for the Blackwater, Cashie, Nottoway and Meherrin rivers and is expected to continue until Thursday.

A coastal flood advisory is also in effect, meaning the Nansemond River and several creeks will be inundated, especially on either side of high tide. The advisory is in effect until 8 a.m. Monday. The coastal flood warning has been canceled.

A flood warning and wind advisory are also in effect. The wind advisory, in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday, means sustained winds are 31 to 39 miles per hour, with gusts between 46 and 57 miles per hour.