A man with an umbrella is chest-deep in water searching for his car at the Reston North Parkand Ride lot last Thursday. The commuter lot was submerged in water from the heavy rain related to the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee. Photo by Keir-Kevin Curry

When David Benson got off the bus with a dozen other commuters and took his first look at the Reston North Park and Ride lot under water he stood motionless, in shock. One commuter started screaming. The other commuters remained remarkably emotionless, just staring at the water. Slowly cell phones were pulled out to take photos of the flood water and make calls. The bus driver told the group he could take them to the Herndon station. Most of the commuters called others to come pick them up.

Kier-Kevin Curry took the Fairfax Connector bus from the West Falls Church Metro stop to Reston Thursday evening, expecting to be dropped off on Sunset Hills Road. Instead, he and a group of other commuters who had parked at the Reston North lot were dropped off near the McDonalds on Wiehle Avenue. The bus driver explained that Sunset Hills Road was closed.

As the group walked down Sunset Hills and crested the hill above the parking lot, a large pond came into view. In the center of the pond was the commuter lot where they had parked earlier that morning. Curry’s car was completely submerged and was not visible in the water. The group of commuters stood for a moment in disbelief. There was a sense of helplessness, explained Curry. One of the commuters waded into the flood water, up to his chest, to search for his car. He was unsuccessful. Curry called his wife to pick him up at a nearby gas station.

The Reston North Park & Ride commuter lot is covered with flood water. Many of the cars are submerged and are not visible in this photograph. Photo by Olga Bogatyrenko

Jeff Counts got off the bus on Sunset Hills Road and the rain was falling heavily. Upon viewing the flooded Reston North parking lot he described the scene as bizarre. Many of the cars were submerged with open trunks and wind shield wipers that were moving.

“It just made no sense that water could get trapped like that in an open parking lot,” he said.

Counts’s car was at the bottom of the lot, completely submerged. It was with many other submerged cars.

“There were some nice cars in that lot including a Porsche convertible,” he said.

Counts waited at the bus shelter for his wife, Olga, to pick him up. Olga later took the photo that is displayed above.

The aftermath

I made the trip to the Reston Park North Park and Ride on Friday, the day after the flood, to photograph the aftermath. The scene reminded me of the expression, ‘it’s like watching a train wreck.”

I couldn’t take my eyes off of the mud-and-debris-coated cars and the various owners who were busy trying to salvage and clean muddy items that had been in their cars during the flood.

As I walked through the parking lot I noticed David Benson calmly sitting on his 1991 Cadillac Brougham, waiting for a tow truck. Benson was very fond of his Cadillac but expects it will be totalled. He has already started to search for a similar model.

As I spoke to Benson, he held his arm up as high as he could reach. “This is how high the water was over my car,” he said.

Benson plans to petition the Fairfax Board of Supervisors to replace the inadequate storm drain in the parking lot.

A bird’s eye map of the Reston North Park & Ride commuter lot. Image source FairfaxCounty.gov

Benson also suggested that the runoff in the flooded parking lot was from the nearby Dulles Toll Road and the wide-spread development which surrounds the commuter lot in Reston. He said that pavement drains much faster than grass and the new Metro stop near Weihle Avenue will make this problem even worse.

Kier-Kevin Curry had recently purchased his 2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid that was completely submerged in the flood. He took his family out to the Reston North lot on Friday to help salvage items from the car.

Curry’s young daughter, Deirdre, was quite amused by the muddy task. She announced loudly:“Look at my hand print.” A dripping wet hand print was visible on the drying mud that completely covered the car’s dashboard. Deirdre’s parents managed to smile.

Near the Camry, the owner of a Honda, Parviz Hassazadeh, asked me to photograph his car and email him the images. I agreed. His story was similar to the others. He had been dropped off at Reston Town Center by the Fairfax Connector bus and found himself in a state of shock when he first saw his car completely submerged in the parking lot. His wife provided transportation home but was delayed in the flood-related traffic.

Unlike many of the other car owners, however, Hassazadeh was particularly angry about the situation.

“I strongly believe the Fairfax Connector must be held accountable and liable for the losses,” he said.

This Nissan had an open sunroof during the flood which provided an entry point for flood debris that has coated the inside of the car. An acorn rests on the dashboard while wet paper hangs from the rear view mirror. Photo by Kevin Ambrose

I turned my focus from the waterlogged cars to photographing the flood-related debris and litter. It was everywhere. I work in Reston and I never see litter. It exists, however, in all shapes and sizes and somehow much of it managed to float and land upon the cars and asphault of the Reston North Park and Ride lot. One pile contained two plastic bottles and a chunk of Styrofoam and was perfectly positioned on the top of a car. Many other debris piles were jammed between the windshields and hoods of cars. One car had an assortment of acorns, sticks, and a tennis ball resting against its windshield. What appeared to be a relatively new backpack was deposited on the top of a minivan, covered with a layer of sticks. It was apparent that the mud and debris found home on the expensive Mercedes and BMW cars equal to that of the other cars.

As I walked out of the parking lot back to my car I noticed a new pair of Mickey Mouse sunglasses, perfectly positioned on the top of a small debris pile which rested on the asphault. I looked around to see if someone could have dropped the glasses. Perhaps Deirdre? I picked up the glasses and flipped them over. There was a light coating of mud on the back of the lenses. It was just another one of the countless pieces of flood-related debris that had floated and landed upon the Reston North Park and Ride lot. I put the glasses back on the debris pile, took one more photo, then left.

More photos of the Reston North Park and Ride can be found at: Weatherbook.com

David Benson sits on his 1991 Cadillac Brougham while waiting for a tow truck. His car was submerged in the flood and is most likely totalled. Benson plans to search for the same model Cadillac for his next car. Photo by Kevin Ambrose