Some businesses in the Washington Harbor area of the Georgetown waterfront were evacuated as a precaution about 10 a.m., said Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the D.C. fire department. The department shut off gas and electric utilities between 8 and 9 a.m., as rising water flooded the basement and parking garage, submerging some parked cars.
Katherine Siahaan, who works at Gelateria Dolce Vita and arrived about 7:30 a.m., said “We didn’t think it was going to be any trouble, but the water kept rising.” By 10 a.m., barstools and a cash register were floating around inside the shop.
Tony and Joe’s restaurant sustained the most damage, Piringer said. Most of the damage could have been avoided had the floodwall been in place, he said.
“We were quite surprised when we arrived on the scene and the floodwall wasn’t erected,” Piringer said. Around noon, with the help of a crane, the floodwall was raised.
The river was expected to crest at 11.9 feet there at about 6 p.m. Monday, and fall below flood stage by Tuesday morning.
“Minor flooding is forecast and is occuring,” said Brian Lasorsa, a meteorologist at the weather service’s Baltimore/Washington forecast office. A flood warning remains in effect there until Tuesday afternoon, and downstream a coastal flood warning is in place until midnight Monday.
There was also minor flooding upstream at Harpers Ferry, and at Point of Rocks, where the river reached 22.5 feet at 10 a.m Monday, well over the 16 foot flood stage, the weather service said.
In the C&O National Historical Park, along the Potomac River, workers placed sandbags around the Great Falls Tavern as a precaution and closed several nearby hiking trails to the public.
Bill Justice, chief of interpretation and education for the park, warned people to observe the flood only from afar.
“Although there isn’t water over the towpath” it doesn’t mean the area is safe, he said Monday. “The river is still going up...as people get out there they may be getting into things they don’t know about...Watch from a distance. Watch it from high ground.”
“The Potomac River is a very dangerous and unpredictable river even in low water situations,” he said. “Under high water situations, (it’s) even more so.”
Here’s a photo of the Georgetown flood walls when they are properly raised, courtsey of Capital Business reporter Jonathan O’Connell.
The Capital Weather Gang also has reports here.
Also contributing to this story were staff writers Justin Jouvenal and Michael Ruane.