Devastating rains leave two missing in Ivy, serious damage throughout region

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Two cars were swept off Old Ballard Road in a flash flood May 30.
SkycladAP Two cars were swept off Old Ballard Road in a flash flood May 30. SkycladAP

One person was found dead and one is still missing after their Toyota Prius was swept away by flash flooding Wednesday night near the intersection of Old Ballard Road and Martin Farm Lane in Ivy.

The first body was located near Ivy Drive in Ivy Creek, and the Prius was found about 20 yards from Old Ballard Road. A BMW that was swept away on the same road is still missing after searching three miles yesterday, according to Albemarle County Fire Chief Dan Eggleston. The driver of the BMW was able to escape the vehicle and was rescued.

“We’ve been searching for the victims since last night,” Eggleston said Wednesday, before the first one was found. He also described how the Prius was “tossed and turned and overturned” by the “swollen, raging river.”

As much as 9 inches of rain fell in the Ivy area and the areas west of U.S. 29 saw 7 inches and 8 inches, according to the Newsplex. Climatologist Jerry Stenger calls the estimate “certainly believable,” though only 3 inches were collected at the McCormick Observatory and the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport.

“It’s very unusual to get this much rainfall in such a short period at a given location,” Stenger says. “It is, nonetheless, not too unusual to see rainfall of this magnitude occurring somewhere when strong thunderstorms roll through.”

Due to a Dickerson Road water main break and flooding at the North Fork Rivanna Water Treatment Plant, an advisory to boil all water in select areas is in effect for about 1,200 customers.

Gary O’Connell, executive director of the Albemarle County Service Authority, said this is just a precaution. “We have no indication that the water’s not safe.”

Eggleston said multiple bands of heavy rain Wednesday night “overwhelmed our local and regional resources,” and Albemarle County declared a state of emergency around 11:45pm so rescuers could request additional resources. Currently, a water rescue team from Lynchburg is helping search for the remaining victim.

Search and rescue closed Old Ballard Road Thursday morning.

At least 10 water rescues have been made so far, and more rain is in the forecast. The chief said an “unstable weather front” will be moving through the area.

“We’re possibly preparing for a repeat of last night,” he said. Any additional rain will make waterways swell to the same dangerous levels.

“Please do not drive through standing water,” he says. “Turn around.”

Albemarle Police Chief Ron Lantz said Thursday that 35 county roads are closed. He asked drivers not to go around them.

Route 33 over the Skyline Drive at Swift Run Gap between Greene and Rockingham counties is closed because of mudslides.

Azalea, Riverview and Darden Towe parks, Chris Greene Lake, Meadowcreek Golf Course and city spray grounds are closed because of considerable damage and flooding.

Virginia State Police responded to a two-vehicle crash in the westbound lanes of Interstate 64 at the 113 mile marker on Thursday around 7:20am, and one person has died. It is unclear whether the crash was weather-related.

Officials with the county’s service authority and the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority say there is no damage to any dams, though customers should still conserve water, and the 1,200 customers in the affected area may have low water pressure or no water at all.

Updated May 31 at 11:30am.

Updated May 31 at 2:13pm.

Updated June 1 at 9am.

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