After Widespread Flooding, No Relief yet for the DC Metro Area as 14 Million People Remain Under Alerts

Heavy flooding inundated communities across the Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area on Friday and forecasters expect the rain to continue through Saturday.

Nearly 14 million people were under a coastal flooding warning early Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

“The neighbors who have been here a long time say it hasn’t been this high since Isabel and in their lifetime that’s the only time it’s been this high,” Baltimore County resident Tyler Fields told CNN affiliate WJZ, referring to Hurricane Isabel, which crashed ashore in North Carolina in 2003 and moved northward into the area.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency for areas along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River and the Atlantic Coast.

“While a bulk of the heavy rainfall has concluded, additional rain will track from south to north tonight,” the local NWS in the Washington-Baltimore region said late Friday. “Additionally, tidal/coastal flooding continues with moderate to major flooding in the forecast!”

Water levels would remain elevated through at least Saturday, it said.

Earlier Friday, strong winds pushed water into the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay, while also moving water inland—causing flooding along the coasts of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey.

Flood
A police officer pulls a potted plant across a flooded street near a bar in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, on October 29, 2021. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Forecasters were expecting the powerful storm to be one of the most significant tidal flood events, which happen when sea levels rise well above normal, spilling water onto dry land. Water levels in parts of the region reached knee-deep for some residents on Friday.

The Washington Channel—which runs parallel to the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.—and Alexandria, Virginia, could see a high tide that will bring water levels up to 5 feet above normal around 3:30 a.m. ET Saturday, the NWS warned. Low-lying areas are the most at risk.

The weather service expects a portion of Washington’s Navy Yard neighborhood to flood. And in historic Old Town Alexandria— which endured flooding on Friday—more misery is forecast. The coastal flood warning for those areas is effective through 8 a.m. ET Sunday.

In anticipation, Alexandria city officials are urging residents to take precautions.

“Property owners are urged to take the necessary actions to protect flood-prone property; if you must travel, then do not drive around barricades or through water of unknown depth,” the city warned on its website.

Flooding Overtook Streets

In Southwest D.C., the Municipal Fish Market at the Wharf, which sits along a waterfront, saw flooding so high that some customers couldn’t even reach some of the shops there.

And even though the market is prone to flooding, worker Antonio Sanabria told CNN affiliate WUSA that he hadn’t seen such high levels of water.

“It came out of nowhere and we thought we would be prepared, but I think we pretty much got it,” Sanabria told the news outlet. “We’ve tied down all the boats, we got brand new rigs throughout the boat and tied everything down brand new last night.”

Captain White’s Seafood was forced to close Friday as some workers used garbage bags to wade through the water to leave, WUSA reported.

In North Beach, Maryland, waves crashed over the boardwalk.

“It was amazing and powerful to witness, but we’re worried about our neighbors and the local businesses that are damaged by the waves and the flooding,” resident Wendy Bohon said.

In Baltimore County, some residents resorted to kayaks to make their way around.

“Well, it was a lot easier to move place to place,” resident Logan Wozniak told CNN affiliate WJZ. “Plus, the water was getting really high and it was getting over my boots and I didn’t feel like keeping getting wet.”

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