NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Waters receded Friday afternoon, and most roads have reopened after a morning of significant flooding and driving hazards across Hampton Roads.
The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for Norfolk, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach until 3 p.m. Sure enough, heavy rains led to high water and high water led to headaches for drivers who thought they could make it through.
In Norfolk, city streets were inundated by water after heavy rainfall quickly overwhelmed its drainage system. That made for a tricky commute for drivers like Sheila Janes, an elementary school teacher, who waited three hours for the water to recede.
“Ghent was flooded. I tried to go downtown that was flooded,” she said.
Donell Davis, Norfolk’s Storm Water Operations Manager, told WAVY.com about how vacuum truck crews were out monitoring the drainage system during the rain. 10 On Your Side caught up with one of the crews along Azalea Garden Road.
“They found out these structures were all covered in water and they came out to the ditch and saw that it was holding water, and they put the nozzle in and they blew the nozzle through the system, which broke the stoppage and as you can see the water is running,” Davis said.
Additionally, Naval Station Norfolk experienced flooding. Officials said Gate 4 inbound was down to one lane and high water was reported at Gate 22; Patrol Road; and Bellinger Boulevard and 2nd Avenue.
Officer Daniel Hudson with Norfolk Police said all roads have been reopened.
Lori Crouch with the City of Norfolk said the city typically has problems with flooding whenever there is a large amount of rain at the same time as high tide because there’s nowhere for the water to go.
The flooding forced the closing of several off-ramps from Interstate 264 in Portsmouth, including the exit at Frederick Boulevard. The northbound lanes of Frederick Boulevard itself, however, remained open, leaving it up to drivers to decide to plow ahead or turn around.
Larger vehicles and four-wheel-drives with high ground clearance were able to navigate the high water. Other drivers learned the hard way.
“The battery’s dead by now, but I’m sure there’s more than just the battery,” said Alex Gusev as he tried his ignition. His Volkswagen Jetta died shortly after plowing through the standing water about 9 a.m. He was just a few blocks from his construction job, but had to stay with his car throughout the day.
Shanita Bennett said her day was ruined when her Dodge Stratus made it through, but immediately began to have steering problems.
“I’m distraught, I’ve been in my car since 9 o’clock this morning,” she said. “The steering is messed up I’m assuming from trying to turn and drive slow in the water.”
Police blocked off several roads in the downtown area. Det. Misty Holley told WAVY.com officials with Naval Hospital Portsmouth rerouted traffic at the back of the hospital at Parkview Avenue.
Holley said there were more than two dozen disabled vehicle reports in the city before 11:30 a.m.
The Elizabeth River Tunnels Project team tweeted crews were closing the Interstate 264 westbound off ramp to Effingham Street in Portsmouth due to high water.
According to Holley, all roads have been reopened.
Heath Covey with the City of Chesapeake there were no specific streets closed due to flooding in the city.
Bonita Harris with Dominion Virginia Power told WAVY.com rain and wind were knocking down tree branches and causing scattered power outages across the area. In Chesapeake, a damaged piece of equipment near Battlefield Boulevard and Kempsville Road caused 3,000 customers to lose power.
Power was restored to 2,000 customers by 8:30 a.m. The rest had power by 9:30 a.m.
Flooding in the Twin Bridges area near the Interstate 64/Interstate 264 interchange closed the HOW eastbound lane.