Parts of VA Dealing with Flooding and Road Closures from Rain

Flooding from persistent heavy rain and downed trees have blocked roads and closed schools in western Virginia.

Authorities reported secondary roads closed Thursday in the Roanoke and New River valleys, in the Lynchburg area and in Rockbridge County.

More than two dozen roads were closed in Pittsylvania County alone, and roads also were blocked in adjacent Henry County.

Schools are closed in Franklin County, where flooding blocked three of four lanes of U.S. 220. Flooding also was reported on U.S. 460 in Montgomery County, where several schools were closed.

Appalachian Power Co. says it increased release of water into the Staunton River Thursday morning after the level of Smith Mountain Lake exceeded full pond.

Norfolk is also bracing for flooding that might become as severe as Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

Norfolk spokesman Bob Batcher says officials in the coastal city are seeing flooded streets and widespread stalled cars. Batcher says that the low-lying Ocean View neighborhood, a spit of land just north of the nation's largest Navy base, and the downtown area are the usual trouble spots.

High winds are exacerbating the tide, which is about six feet to seven feet above normal.

The flooding is expected to worsen during high tide Thursday evening.

Officials are urging people against driving through standing water. And they've offered free parking in garages downtown for people whose neighborhoods are flooded.

In Virginia Beach, officials are keeping a close watch on inland waterways and high tide too as wind and rain continue to lash the resort city.

Battalion Chief Tim Riley said Thursday fire officials have responded to numerous downed power lines and tree limbs. He also reported scattered flooding. There have been no injuries.

He said a primary concern are inland waterways such as the Lynnhaven River, where winds are driving water up the tidal estuary, which is lined by housing.

Riley said emergency officials are keeping a close eye on the high tide, which is scheduled for 4 p.m.

He said high winds are creating a powerful surf along the famed oceanfront and blowing stinging sand across the boardwalk.

In southeast Virginia, state transportation officials closed the Midtown Tunnel as a precaution and the southbound lane of the James River Bridge. All other bridges and tunnels are open, but officials are worried that high tide during rush hour could cause severe traffic problems Thursday afternoon.

Virginia Department of Transporation spokesman Jeff Caldwell says portions of five interstates were closed, but most were ramps. Another two dozen primary roads and more than 150 secondary roads were closed.

Virginia State Police spokeswoman Debra Cox says there have been more than 140 traffic crashes in Hampton Roads alone. She did not know if any of those were fatal.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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