Tue09162014

Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

   20140901MetroCastweb

Severe rain leaves residents stranded

VDOT, Police, Fire and Rescue were kept on edge all night on Thursday, Sept. 8 and into the morning hours of Friday,  responding to trapped motorists in high, raging water all around the Colonial Beach area and throughout Westmoreland and King George Counties.

If Tropical storm Lee dumped its water on Texas it would have created 6 inches of rain for the entire state and ended the drought and wild fires, but it dumped its water on the East Coast instead.

Colonial Beach got more than its share of rain.

Flooding was compounded by the failure of several man made dams in the Placid Bay and Westmoreland Shores making these the hardest

hit areas leaving hundreds of residents stranded for a few days.

As of Monday Fire, Rescue and Police have not had a chance to tally all the water rescue and other calls created by the storm. After two days of  heavy downpours and flood watches, Thursday evening’s storms really packed a punch for residents.

What started around 5 p.m. with minor puddling and light sprinkles quickly turned into a deluge of water with no place to go.

Residents reported yards, basements and low lying areas flooding. Back yards began to look like rivers, cars began to get stuck in ditches and were quickly abandoned.

The water on Colonial Ave. and Jackson Street was reported to be waste deep by resident Bobby Hooker.

Residents of 405 Livingstone were seeking a room Thursday night at the Colonial Beach Inn after a tree fell on their house and caved in their roof.

Three of the women at the Cooper Branch library were stranded for the evening unable to drive through the flooded streets of Colonial Beach.

Matthew Putman, a page at the library, reported that shortly after 6:30 p.m. flooding began in the back office of the library and started to soak into the main area. Employees moved all the books from the lower shelves as a precaution.

The library also suffered some leaking through out the roof and Putman reported that a mouse was found swimming in one of the bathroom toilets, no doubt fleeing from the overfilled pipes but was quickly flushed back down by one of the visiting Boy Scout Masters who were attending the Town Council Meeting that night.

The Colonial Beach girls volleyball team was stranded in King and Queen. The School had to find the girls a hotel to stay for the evening. 

Colonial Beach Fire Department called on King George Fire Department when they could not reach stranded motorists on Rt. 205 at Wilkerson’s.

Despite road closures, social media and word of mouth warnings, some folks decided to test Mother Nature’s wrath. Some who caught off guard and suffered the consequences.

One woman was reported sitting on top of her car with water rushing all around her when she phoned 911.

Another woman in the area of Claymont was trapped in her vehicle which was pinned to a guard rail - the only thing keeping her car from being swept away by the raging flood waters. Firefighters and rescue workers from Westmoreland and King George waited on either side of the raging water talking the woman through the harrowing wait for Swift Water Rescue to arrive. The woman was trapped for more than 2 hours and Mother Nature finally gave the rescuers a break from the rain shortly after 1 a.m. allowing waters to recede. The woman was pulled from her vehicle safely by fire fighters at around 1:30 a.m.

Another late night call in the area of Monroe Bay Circle for a stranded motorist ended with the rescuers needing rescue.  In the course of attempting to help the stranded motorist, Rescue Squad member, Nicholas Roe and one Fire Department member, (Big) Jim Jett II were swept away with the current. Rapid Water Rescue from Chesterfield County arrived and after a harrowing two hours in the cold raging water  all three were pulled to safety and are now reported in good condition.

Rt. 205 suffered significant damage just past Willey’s; floods washed away a huge section of the roadway. Pictures of two trucks inside the hole on top of each other seemed small in comparison to the overall damage.

This section of Rt. 205 was quickly repaired by VDOT and is now open to motorists. 

Rt. 205 also sustained damage at the bottom of the hill just passed the Mattox Creek Bridge and its detour, Ferry Landing, allowed only one lane of traffic near the bridge due to a mammoth washout of the road that was several feet deep and about two-car lengths long.

As of Monday the Ferry Landing detour was still in affect.

For at least two days residents had to take Longfield Rd. to Stoney Knoll to Rt. 3 when several sections of Rt. 3 were also closed for several days, making travel out of the Beach very difficult.

Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Dispatch reports all sections of Rt. 3 are now open.

Colonial Beach Police Chief, Kenneth Blevins Sr. reported that the worst public area damage sustained in the town of Colonial Beach was erosion on the beach. Blevins reported he personally drove around the beach and to surrounding areas on his day off to assure that routes were passable.

On Monday, Town Manager Val Foulds reported that the town staff has been “gathering data for submission to the county” for emergency funds.  Foulds reported that the Colonial Beach water system “never lost pressure and was never compromised” and that the water quality was tested at regular intervals.  Town staff is in close contact with Westmoreland County officials, FEMA and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management looking at damage to the town such as beach erosion.

Placid Bay and Westmoreland Shores sustained heavy flooding, which was compounded by three of the seven manmade dams being destroyed.

Residents in the area were without water and sewer until Saturday when PBE Water company announced that both systems where fully operational. Customers still having issues with individual connection are directed to contact the company at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Parking for residents of Placid Bay was set up in the Outdoor World parking lot. Karen Lewis, assistant County Administrator coordinated with Bay Transit to provided  ‘at no charge’ a 12 passenger handicapped accessible bus to residents of the area for rides to Colonial Beach for grocery, medical and other needs and remains in place for the roughly 50 residents who still have no access by car.

Blake Franklin, manager of Franklin Mechanical, the company that installed the sewer system for Westmoreland County, volunteered to furnish his truck and managed to obtain another from Walker Sand & Stone to haul clay to repair the dam between Seahorse and Chrystal lakes. The Civic Association of Placid Bay Estates has agreed to pay for the clay.  Larry Sprouse President of PBE Water company and Manager, Artie Newlon,  volunteered a day and three pieces of equipment to rebuild the dam.

Sprouse reports that after 12 loads of material the Seahorse and Chrystal dam has been saved, but will require additional reinforcement with concrete and rip rap on the surface.

Sprouse reported that Franklin reinforced the temporary sewer repairs on Lakeview.

Sprouse reported in a phone interview on Monday evening that despite washed out power lines and poles, Northern Neck Electric company after only two hours on scene, had power restored to all residents in Placid Bay by Friday around Noon.

Sprouse credits the speedy recovery of the community to the fantastic cooperation of everyone.

Linda Farneth

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