Rains Strand Washington Drivers, Flood White House Basement

Rains Strand Washington Drivers, Flood White House Basement
Heavy rainfall flooded the intersection of 15th Street and Constitution Ave., NW stalling cars in the street, in Washington near the Washington Monument on July 8, 2019. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)

A slow-moving rainstorm on July 8 washed out roads, stranded drivers and soaked basements, including the White House’s, during a chaotic morning commute in the national capital region.

Water gushed into the press workspace in the basement near the White House’s West Wing. Government employees worked to drain puddles of standing water with wet vacs.

NTD Photo
Motorists are stranded on a flooded section of Canal Road in Washington during a heavy rainstorm, July 8, 2019. (Dave Dildine/WTOP via AP)

Flooding led to electrical outages that closed the National Archives Building and Museum, according to a statement from the National Archives, which said the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were safe and not in any danger.

National Weather Service meteorologist Cody Ledbetter said the storm dumped about 6.3 inches of rain near Frederick, Maryland, about 4.5 inches near Arlington, Virginia, and about 3.4 inches at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in a two-hour period.

“The storm was not moving very quickly,” Ledbetter said.

Water levels at Cameron Run in Alexandria, Virginia, a flood-prone area along the Capital Beltway, rose more than 7 feet over 30 minutes after 9 a.m., according to the weather service. Four Mile Run, which runs through Arlington and Alexandria, saw a similar increase.

Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the fire department in Montgomery County, Maryland, said emergency workers responded to dozens of rescue calls and used boats to pluck people from flooded cars.

“Everywhere I turned, there was traffic and roads closed,” he said.

Piringer said he didn’t immediately receive any reports of storm-related injuries.

In northern Virginia, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue said it responded to more than 30 calls for swift water rescues throughout the county. Authorities advised people to avoid driving if possible. Neighboring Arlington County also reported numerous rescues.

Gretchen Eisenberg’s morning 4-mile commute usually lasts 10 minutes. It took her nearly an hour to drive to work from her Frederick home. She stopped to shoot eye-popping video of a Frederick park inundated with raging floodwaters.

“I tried to take my normal route, but I had to turn around and take a different way in because of the flooding,” she said.

A flash flood emergency has been issued for the Washington D.C. metro area until 11:15 a.m. by the National Weather Service.

In the last hour alone, some spots just west of the nation’s capital have seen over 3 inches of rain, especially along the Potomac River.

Areas of concern include the Great Falls, Virginia, area and southeastern Montgomery County, Maryland.

Extremely heavy rain continues to fall over much of the area, including the District of Columbia.

Storms are also affecting airports, with traffic heading to Reagan National stopped on the ground. Departure delays by more than one hour have been reported.

“Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall will cause flooding of small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses as well as other drainage areas and low lying spots,” according to the weather service. More than a dozen high water rescues have already been reported in the area.

“Most flood deaths occur in vehicles,” according to the National Weather Service, which advises against driving into “any area where water covers the road.”

The service requests motorists to “move to higher ground as quickly as possible.”

The CNN Wire contributed to this report.

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