Water rises as rain drenches DC

July 11, 2012

Bursts of intense rain drenched parts of the Washington region Tuesday night, closing several roads, stalling cars in high water and flooding basements, authorities said.

Water levels rose quickly on stretches of Rhode Island Avenue, in the District’s northwest and northeast quadrants. The city’s Bloomingdale neighborhood, near First Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW was hard hit.

With more than one half inch of rain reported within an hour at Reagan National Airport, and even heavier rain falling in other places, water overwhelmed a number of catch basins, and spread onto some sidewalks.

In a few cases, flash flooding sent water rising at least to the tops of the wheels of autos.

Spots affected included Second Street and Independence Avenue SE on Capitol Hill, as well as the vicinity of the underpass at 20th Street and Virginia Avenue NW, according to Chris Geldart, acting head of the city’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management agency.

In addition, he said, about 3,000 homes and businesses lost power in the city for a time.

Geldart said some basements flooded. It appeared that a number were in Bloomingdale, a low lying section where sewage reportedly backed up in some basements.

Bloomingdale is a low lying part of the city, where the capacity of the sewer system was severely taxed by heavy rainfall in previous incidents.

Several autos were apparently abandoned in high water. It was not clear how the occupants got out, but no serious injuries were reported.

Clarence Williams is the night police reporter for The Washington Post and has spent the better part of 13 years standing next to crime scene tape, riding in police cars or waking officials in the middle of night to gather information about breaking news in and around Washington.
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