Heavy rain floods local roads

Published 5:24 pm Tuesday, August 18, 2020

A weekend of heavy rain and flooding damaged roads and bridges in Isle of Wight and Surry counties, and led to Isle of Wight Sheriff’s deputies rescuing a man from a flooded vehicle on Mill Swamp Road on Aug. 16.

“This is why we encourage people, that if they come across high water, to turn around and not drown,” said Sheriff’s Office Lt. Tommy Potter, who added an estimated four feet of water may have overwhelmed the vehicle.

According to Potter, when the driver of the vehicle came upon the high water, he tried to drive through but underestimated the depth of the water and any flood-related road damage present that made the situation worse. “His car stalled, and he was able to summon for help,” Potter said.

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Deputies obtained a canoe from a nearby residence and used the boat to rescue the stranded motorist “because the water was getting too deep for them to consider wading out there.”
Flooding was reported on Burwells Bay Road and Mill Swamp Road according to reports from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s 511 Virginia website. Parts of Old Stage Highway near Morgarts Beach Road and the Orbit Road/Woodland Drive area were also blocked due to high water, as were parts of U.S. 460 in Windsor and Zuni.

A large sinkhole opened on Orbit Road, leading the sheriff’s office to post a photo and statement on Facebook: “Here is a perfect example of why not to drive through water over a roadway. This hole would hold an entire car.”

“Most people in the county are familiar with the low lying areas that typically flood. They typically flood rather quickly but at the same time, they also drain the water relatively fast. And that’s been the case in the majority of the roads here in the county,” Potter said.

Surry County also saw significant flooding, roadway and bridge damage over the weekend, the county said on social media. Despite the potential danger and the subsequent inconvenience of detours, “in the wake of the flood, no injuries of county citizens or response personnel were reported,” Surry County Administrator Melissa Rollins said.

“It will be challenging getting around these areas in the county for a while, but it could have been worse,” Rollins continued. “We are grateful that everyone was safe and for the assistance provided by Emergency Management and volunteers in blocking drivers from the flooded areas and damaged roads.”

In a news release, VDOT said emergency repairs are needed before Highgate Road (Route 634) and Mounts Ray Road (Route 650) in Surry can reopen. Five other roads in Surry and two in Isle of Wight were closed as of mid-afternoon on Aug. 17, including Route 10 in Surry near the Isle of Wight County line.

“VDOT crews worked throughout the weekend to clear fallen trees and close roads where high water and bridge washouts were present,” the agency said. “Resources have been shifted to deploy additional staff, equipment, signs and materials to the areas of highest damage to ensure that signs and barricades are in place on washed-out or damaged roads.”

If you encounter road closure barriers, cones, or signs, leave them in place and don’t drive around the barricade because the “closures are in place for motorist safety, and crews will reopen the road as soon as it’s safe to do so,” VDOT said.