RICHMOND, Va. – Up to 9 inches of rain soaked parts of Virginia, forcing the evacuation Saturday of a six-block section of the city and causing scattered flooding in the southeastern part of the state.
The bodies of two fishermen were found Saturday in the Poquoson River one day after they cast off in a 17-foot skiff, the Coast Guard reported. Their boat was found capsized Friday night amid "terrible weather conditions" of 50 mph wind gusts and seas of up to 5 feet, Petty Officer Kip Wadlow said.
The Virginia Department of Transportation temporarily suspended the Jamestown-Scotland ferry because of heavy rain and high waters on the James River. Emergency officials in Isle of Wight County advised against travel because of flooded roads and reported three dozen evacuations. Smithfield High School was opened as a shelter.
"We have more roads out than we can keep track of," said Don Robertson, a spokesman for the county. "We have some bridges that are out (and) a lot of flash flood conditions."
The National Weather Service said rainfall since Friday ranged from 4 to 9 inches as a storm stalled over the state and a band of rain drenched central Virginia to Hampton Roads. Rain was forecast to taper off later Saturday.
In Richmond's Battery Park, police went door-to-door to more than 40 homes and apartment buildings to enforce the city-ordered evacuation of residents from the hard-hit north side neighborhood. One month ago, the area was flooded during Tropical Depression Ernesto, causing $9 million in property damage and the condemnation of 68 properties. More than 250 homes were evacuated then.
The latest evacuation involved approximately 100 residents, said Britt Drewes, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works. An emergency shelter was established.
"These residents are so sad to see this again," Drewes said. "When the rain started, everybody cringed. There's just frustration."
The flooding is the result of the heavy rain and a broken sewer main that fouled the flood waters and brought vermin and snakes into some residents homes during Ernesto. Forty million gallons of water a day is being pumped from the neighborhood, but the effort cannot keep apace of the rain, Drewes said.
"At this point, the water is still very high," she reported before noon Saturday.
Repairs to the sewer pipe are complicated because it is located under a former landfill about 1 mile from the urban neighborhood.
Elsewhere in Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel was closed briefly Friday afternoon because of safety concerns.
In central Virginia, the weather service issued flood statements for Lynchburg and Campbell and Amherst County.