UPDATED: Ivy flood victims found

The city’s Riverview Park, which is nestled between homes in the Woolen Mills neighborhood and the Rivanna River, was severely flooded. While the park has reopened to the public, its entry point to the Rivanna Trail remains closed. Photo by Skycladap.com The city’s Riverview Park, which is nestled between homes in the Woolen Mills neighborhood and the Rivanna River, was severely flooded. While the park has reopened to the public, its entry point to the Rivanna Trail remains closed. Photo by Skycladap.com

The second victim’s body has been found after a couple’s Toyota Prius was swept away by flash flooding on the night of May 30 near the intersection of Old Ballard Road and Martin Farm Lane in Ivy.

At about 12:30pm today, a canine search crew detected a scent about one-third of a mile downstream from where the couple was last observed. Search crews removed debris and mud, eventually uncovering the body, according to Albemarle County spokesperson Jody Saunders.

Searchers had covered more than 7.2 miles of waterway with extremely dangerous terrain and conditions from the Old Ballard Road crossing to the South Fork Rivanna River Reservoir, said Jody Saunders. Weekend rain made search conditions even more difficult.

“There are countless downed trees tangled in the waterways and huge piles of vegetative debris,” Saunders said Tuesday, before the last victim was found. “Consequently, local volunteers are not being sought to aid the search effort.”

The first body was found on the morning of May 31 near Ivy Drive in Ivy Creek, and the Prius was located about 20 yards from Old Ballard Road. A BMW that was swept away on the same road was also located today, completely submerged in approximately four to six feet of water, near where the Prius was found, according to Saunders

The driver of the BMW escaped the vehicle at the time of the flood and was rescued.

Eggleston described how the Prius was “tossed and turned and overturned” by the “swollen, raging river.”

As much as nine inches of rain fell in the Ivy area, and the areas west of U.S. 29 saw seven inches and eight inches. Climatologist Jerry Stenger calls the estimates “certainly believable,” though only three 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.”

A Dickerson Road water main break and flooding at the North Fork Rivanna Water Treatment Plant put about 1,200 customers under an advisory to boil all of their water. That was lifted over the weekend.

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

Eggleston said multiple bands of heavy rain on the night of May 30 “overwhelmed our local and regional resources,” and Albemarle County declared a state of emergency around 11:45pm so rescuers could request additional resources. A water rescue team from Lynchburg was called to help search for the victims.

At least 10 water rescues were made, and more rain was in the forecast. The chief said an “unstable weather front” would be moving through the area.

“We’re possibly preparing for a repeat of last night,” he said on May 31, adding that any additional rain would make waterways swell to the same dangerous levels.

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

Nearly 40 county roads were closed, according to Albemarle Police Chief Ron Lantz, who asked drivers not to go around road closed signs. Holkham Drive, a private road in Ivy, collapsed, leaving about 20 families trapped until a temporary exit was made through a neighbor’s property. At press time, Ragged Mountain Road was the only public road still closed in the county, according to VDOT spokesperson Will Merritt.

A Norfolk man died around 7:20am May 31 on Interstate 64. Virginia State Police responded to a two-vehicle crash in the westbound lanes at mile marker 113, where 36- year-old Ahmed Shelton was heading toward a rest area when he ran off the right side of the road and hit a disabled tractor-trailer. The crash is still under investigation and it is unclear whether it was weather-related.

The Charlottesville-UVA-Albemarle Emergency Operations Center is asking residents to report flood damage by calling 971-1263. So far, damage assessment teams have responded to more than 500 reports in the Ivy area.

County residents are allowed free disposal of vegetative debris through June 9 at the Ivy Material Utilization Center on Dick Woods Road.

Updated Wednesday, June 6 at 4:10pm.

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