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Floyd County bears brunt of Florence remnants, with power outages and flooding across region

Floyd County bears brunt of Florence remnants, with power outages and flooding across region

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CHECK — Floyd County bore the brunt of the remnant bands of Hurricane Florence as it passed the region Sunday night and into Monday, flooding farms, homes and streams, and leading to at least one rescue by the National Guard.

The county, which received as much as 9 to 10 inches of rain, urged people in about 300 households in floodplains to evacuate, said Lauren Yoder, chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors and emergency management director.

The National Guard deployed several vehicles and about eight members to assist in the county, Yoder said. Those members were involved in one rescue at about 5 a.m. Monday, where they pulled someone from a vehicle trapped in a flooded roadway.

By the afternoon, guard members were encouraged to go to their homes in the Grayson County area, Yoder said, where they may have been affected by flooding.

Flooding, mostly from swelling streams, crept up into people’s homes and washed out dozens of small country roads and driveways, limiting travel. Much of the damage from floodwaters, Yoder said, will likely be in agricultural areas that will have to be assessed later when floodwaters recede.

The Roanoke and New River Valleys experienced some flooding, power outages and road closures, continuing into Monday evening.

“In the New River Valley, I think we actually sort of made out pretty well, all things considered,” Andrew Loconto, a forecaster at the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, said. At 10 to 15 miles per hour, a relatively swift-moving Florence reduced the risk of flash flooding. That wasn’t the case in North Carolina, where the storm crawled at about 2 miles per hour after making landfall.

“She was almost moving slower than most people walk,” Loconto said.

Still, the Roanoke River reached flood stage in Roanoke early Monday afternoon. By 8:30 p.m., the river had peaked at 11.81 feet, according to the National Weather Service. At midnight Sunday, the river had stood at 3.57 feet.

A reach of 10 feet in that location is considered minor flooding, and 12 feet moderate flooding. The river hadn’t reached as high in Roanoke since a September 2015 deluge raised levels to 14.62 feet.

Along Wiley Drive in the Wasena neighborhood, residents gazed at the churning brown waters rushing past, and over, the greenway. Some took photos and videos with phones, and dragged on cigarettes.

On Monday, rainfall totals for the last 48 hours ranged from 2.17 inches in Christiansburg to 9.19 inches in the Floyd County community of Willis, according to the National Weather Service. The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport reported 3.04 inches.

By Monday evening, Appalachian Power reported fewer than 150 customers remained without power in Roanoke and Roanoke County. As of 8:30 p.m., just over 200 customers in Floyd County were still waiting for their lights to come back on.

Complete restoration in areas such as Floyd, Carroll, Grayson, Henry, Patrick and Roanoke counties, may take until Tuesday night, spokeswoman Teresa Hall said.

Chico Estrada, who lives off of Thunderstruck Road north of Floyd, said he evacuated his home over the weekend because of the possibility of flooding Monday morning. The waters crept within six feet of his house, based on photos sent by a neighbor via text message who stayed behind.

Estrada was still unable to get past flooding on the road Monday afternoon, but was hopeful that he’d have access to his home soon.

“I’m just glad we got out and we’re safe,” Estrada said.

The Little River swelled beyond its banks in several other places in the county. At the Little River Baptist Church located on U.S. Route 221 halfway between the community of Check and Floyd, the river rose into a riverside playground and basketball court.

At local business Phoenix Hardwoods, the water filled the basement.

Owner Bill Graefe said that Sunday night waters rose nearly to the showroom floor.

Luckily, the river did not rise that far, instead flooding the basement. Graefe said he and his wife, Corinne, would spend the near future bailing it out.

“We made it by the skin of our teeth,” Bill Graefe said.

Kevin Myatt, Henri Gendreau and Tiffany Holland contributed reporting.

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