Few Florence floods: But local area hit with power outages

It’s too bad Saturday’s UVA football game against Ohio University was moved to Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville—with little rain, the Cavs probably could have played at home. Photo by Jack Looney It’s too bad Saturday’s UVA football game against Ohio University was moved to Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville—with little rain, the Cavs probably could have played at home. Photo by Jack Looney

Grocery store shelves in Charlottesville and Albemarle County were picked clean last week by people preparing for Hurricane Florence’s worst. But come this week, those cases of water, boxes of batteries, and jars of peanut butter had gone largely unneeded.

While a tornado left one person dead in Richmond, and significant flooding threatened folks in Nelson, Green, and Madison counties, the immediate local area was relatively unscathed.

“Florence could dump a foot of rain on already saturated ground,” predicted state climatologist Jerry Stenger before the hurricane, when Virginia was projected to be in its northeast quadrant. “We’re going to have trees down all over the place.”

Stenger was right. And wrong.

The majority of area rain fell Sunday, September 16, through Monday, September 17, and by Monday morning, the National Weather Service had issued a flood warning for the city and county. Local areas reported receiving between a half and two inches of rain, with minor flooding reported in Albemarle.

In the state, approximately 500 roads were temporarily closed, with eight of those in Albemarle, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Approximately 3,800 Dominion Energy customers in Charlottesville and Albemarle County were out of power from 10am Sunday, September 16, until Monday morning, when about 2,300 of those people had their electricity turned back on, according to Dominion spokesperson Daisy Pridgen. Remnants of Florence hit the local area the hardest around this period, and she says the outages were largely the result of trees falling on power lines.

At press time, the energy company’s interactive power outage map showed only 27 and 181 customers were still without electricity in Charlottesville and Albemarle, respectively.

The Virginia State Police are already offering tips for next time, such as dialing 511 before driving for the latest updates on road conditions and closures, and always using headlights while windshield wipers are activated—not only because you can see better and you become more visible to other traffic, but because that’s the law.

And perhaps the most important tip, and one you’ve likely heard before: Turn around, don’t drown.

More than half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state police add that it only takes 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, and two feet of it can wash most vehicles down a roadway.

“It’s never safe to drive or walk into flood waters,” says VSP spokesperson Corinne Geller. “No matter how shallow you might think it is.”

Storm statistics

  • 1 death in Richmond
  • ½ to 2 inches of rain in Charlottesville
    and Albemarle
  • About 500 road closures across the state
  • Nearly 4,000 local power outages for Dominion Energy customers
  • $60 million authorized by Virginia
    Governor Ralph Northam to spend in response to Florence

*Numbers provided by the Virginia Department of Transportation, National Weather Service, and Aubrey Layne, the state secretary of finance

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