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Storms sweep region, causing floods and delays

Business owner frustrated at continued damage from floods, calls on city help

Heavy rain swept through the D.C. area on Aug. 10, causing manhole explosions and blocked roads. (Video: The Washington Post)

A previous version of this article incorrectly said that a flood cleanup crew left District Dogs on Wednesday night and that the crew had also been there on Friday. The cleanup crew was there Wednesday night and also had been there Wednesday morning to clean up from flooding on Friday. The article has been corrected.

When the sky unleashed rain on Northeast Washington on Wednesday afternoon, Jacob Hensley, owner of dog day care District Dogs, checked his Rhode Island Avenue shop’s security cameras.

“There’s waves of water crashing on the building,” Hensley said. “I’m like, ‘Crap, here we go again.’ ”

For the third time in less than a month, Hensley’s storefront would be underwater. When the day care begins to flood, Hensley said, dogs are taken to higher ground, and staff members go into “damage control mode,” removing things from the floor that could be damaged.

“They’ve told us these are like once-in-a-generation or once-a-year-type floods, but three times in four weeks?” Hensley said. “I don’t think so.”

The flooding in Hensley’s business was part of a storm system that swept across the District, Maryland and Virginia on Wednesday afternoon and evening, flooding roadways and bringing miles-long delays to the evening commute, according to authorities.

In the District, D.C. Fire and EMS rescued a woman whose car was stuck in high water at about 5:06 p.m. in the 600 block of Rhode Island Avenue NE, said Vito Maggiolo, a D.C. fire department spokesman. The occupant, a woman, had climbed onto the roof of her car, where rescuers removed her. She was uninjured.

On the same block, Hensley said, there was at least a three-foot wall of water outside his facility and two to three inches of water inside. Flood bags had been put in place, but “our building’s not built like a ship,” Hensley said. “You can’t protect it from that much water.”

The dog day care location opened in May. During construction last year, Hensley said, he wasn’t given any warning of any possible flooding issues. Hensley said he has been in touch with city officials and is hoping for a solution, whether through an improved storm-drain system or some form of protection for his business.

“ I need to know that there is a way to fix this,” Hensley said. “This is a risk anytime it rains.”

At the Capitol South Metro station, located on First Street SE, workers cleared water from the platform that came from the ceiling, Sherri Ly, a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority spokeswoman, said in an email.

“Earlier today, heavy rains and flooding in the area overwhelmed our drainage system and began entering Capitol South Station from the dome ceiling,” Ly said Wednesday evening. “We are also inspecting the drainage to make sure there are no other issues.”

The incident lasted about 15 minutes and there were no injuries or effects on train service, Ly said.

The Metropolitan Area Transportation Operations Coordination program, or MATOC, tweeted at 6:47 p.m. that there were delays of six miles due to high water on Interstates 95 and 495 northbound, past Maryland 450 in Prince George’s County. Earlier, about 6:25 p.m., a tree fell on Maryland 295 southbound at Greenbelt Road, blocking one right lane, which created delays of seven miles, according to MATOC.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, at about 6:50 p.m. flights were delayed an average of 3 hours 29 minutes at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport, and delays of 4 hours 56 minutes were reported at Reagan National Airport. At Washington Dulles International Airport, delays of up to 4 hours 57 minutes were reported.

In Prince George’s County, lightning struck a two-story single-family home in the 14400 block of Saint Gregory Way in Accokeek, about 4:50 p.m., Prince George’s Fire and EMS said. Smoke was coming from the roof and flames through the attic. The residents self-evacuated, the department said.

The severe weather came less than a week after three people were killed and another person was injured in a lightning strike in Lafayette Square in D.C. after a severe thunderstorm.

A flood cleanup crew was at District Dogs on Wednesday night cleaning up, Hensley said, and had been there earlier that day. Dog day care will be closed Thursday and probably through the weekend, giving staff members a break and some time to regroup, Hensley said.

“You sort of feel lost, you don’t know what to do, because it’s out of your control,” he said. “No one controls Mother Nature.”