Emergency crews prepare for high water in Portsmouth, Norfolk

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Drivers in Portsmouth and Norfolk faced flooded streets during high tide Thursday, as city officials prepared for worsening weather. Both cities have declared States of Emergencies to allow help from the Commonwealth.

“The assets that we have are in place and have been in place, whether we have a hurricane or not,” said Deputy Chief Jim Hoffler of Portsmouth Fire Rescue and Emergency Services.

Outside the WAVY newsroom, the water rose almost to the 2-feet mark around high tide. Portsmouth city leaders met to discuss emergency preparedness plans as crews worked to clear drains in problem spots, like outside Park View Elementary.

Hoffler said firefighters will keep an eye out for problem areas in Olde Towne, and complexes that have flooded in the past like the Village at Western Branch in Churchland.

“[The flooding will] block our access. Of course, we worry about people being out driving, running their vehicles, engines stalling out, children playing in the street when the storm drains are draining is very dangerous,” said Hoffler.

Sheriff Bill Watson said his department is prepared to take direction from the fire department in case the storm causes major problems.

Watson explained, inmates have already begun filling sand bags, which will be placed around building downtown. His non-violent inmate work crews will also be used to help clear debris from the streets.

“The main thing is to get the streets clear so we can be mobile,” explained Watson.

In Norfolk, some drivers stalled out from high water on Hampton Boulevard. Flooding covered sidewalks in the Larchmont neighborhood, where resident Elizabeth Oliver lives. She planned to leave for the weekend.

“If it comes, the flooding is going to be the worst part. Three or four blocks away from here, you won’t be able to have a car on your street,” she said.

Neighbor Brad Butler said he was sixth in line on a list to have his house elevated. He just moved to the Larchmont area a few months ago.

“There’s not a whole lot I can do, get a few bags of sand and put them in front of the doorways and entryways and after that, just pray,” he said.

The City of Norfolk has opened parking garages for people who live in flood-prone areas. The garages are located on York and Bank Streets, MacArthur Center, and some places at Old Dominion University. For a full list of open garages in Hampton Roads, click here.

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