Hurricane hits Fluvanna

By Madeline Otten, Correspondent

Fluvanna County residents woke Tuesday morning (Sept. 18) to washed out roads and flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Florence.

“We had heavy flooding last night and have two roads damaged,” said Debbie Smith, county emergency management coordinator.
Rt. 15 was closed due to a washout between Rts. 250 and 631 (Troy Road) until Tuesday morning. Rt. 616 (Union Mills Road) also washed out between Rts. 15 and 600 (South Boston Road) remained closed as of 11 a.m. Tuesday. Several people reported on social media that smaller roads in the county were closed as well.
Fluvanna County Public Schools let out early Monday and canceled Tuesday due to the flooding.

Lake Monticello hit 33 inches above zero, which is the highest level ever recorded. “They have spillways open and are draining the lake,” Smith said.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning Monday night due to heavy rainfall. Fluvanna received four to six inches of rain as of late that evening, according to CBS 19, and still rain continued to pour.

The flash flood warning extended until Wednesday morning due to the Rivanna River rising to near 24.5 feet Tuesday.

Moderate flood stage is 25 feet.

The county was prepared for the remnants of Hurricane Florence to hit.

Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency throughout Virginia Sept. 8 when the projected path of Hurricane Florence, which was at the time a category four, made a beeline for the state.

While initially the storm was projected to directly impact Fluvanna with 20 inches of rain, its path changed direction and targeted the Carolinas.

Eric Dahl, the county’s acting director of emergency management, announced a local emergency as of noon Thursday (Sept. 13). The existence of a local emergency allows the director and coordinator of emergency management to mitigate and recover the county from emergency’s effects.

The first taste of the hurricane seemed to hit when some Lake Monticello residents woke up Friday (Sept. 14) around 5 a.m. with no power. But the outage was caused by a transformer blowing out and was restored an hour later.

On Friday (Sept. 14) Fluvanna started to see rain activity; however, there was no need for a shelter. But the county’s emergency team was prepared for the worst. According to weather maps, Fluvanna was experiencing the outer band of Hurricane Florence. In preparation, the emergency team held phone conferences throughout the weekend and had an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) meeting on Sunday.

“We wanted to be smart with what was projected, so county-wise, we were ready,” said Smith.

For future storms, floods, tree fallings, or snowfall, Fluvanna County residents can use Everbridge, an emergency notification system. This system can communicate to those who have signed up for notifications of closings and alerts within the area. More information about Everbridge is available on Fluvanna County’s website.

Fluvanna’s Community Safety Day was originally scheduled for Saturday (Sept. 15), but was canceled due to the weather. Smith was going to begin the “72-hour club,” or a campaign to prepare residents on how to take care of themselves, families, and pets, for three days in case help does not get there in a timely manner. Smith will be showcasing this new program at upcoming events for the community to learn more.

Hurricane season is still in effect until November. Now, the county has to “get through two more months,” said Smith, until it prepares for snow.

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