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Va. storm causes flooding, power outages

Thursday - 1/31/2013, 5:53pm  ET

RICHMOND, Va. - An overnight storm system packing high winds and rain caused flooding, power failures and damaged homes in Virginia on Thursday.

Virginia Department of Emergency Management spokesman Bob Spieldenner said most of the flooding occurred in the western and northern regions of the state. The Virginia Department of Transportation reported more than 400 roads were closed because of the storm, mostly due to flooding.

About 100 cars in a Radford University parking lot were flooded early Thursday when water from the New River rose above its banks while many students were sleeping. The university also advised students, faculty and staff to only use water for essential uses because the city's water supply had been affected by the storm.

Pulaski County ordered a mandatory evacuation for parts of the county and opened a shelter to house displaced residents. Galax also opened a shelter for 25 people who had to evacuate a low-lying area and a voluntary evacuation was also ordered for parts of Washington County.

Rising water levels in area rivers led Wythe County officials to warn residents about a potential dam failure on the New River, although Appalachian Power officials said the emergency condition was later lifted. Appalachian Power said oak boards atop the dam structure were removed to alleviate water pressure and that engineers inspected the dams and determined that they were stable.

Spieldenner said emergency officials are monitoring water levels and watching to see if flood waters damage any homes. In other parts of the state, wind was the culprit behind property damage.

In Newport News, four apartment buildings and one home were condemned as a result of the storm. One person was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. The National Weather Service reported that trees also fell on homes in Chesapeake and Chesterfield and destroyed a single-wide trailer in James City County.

The National Weather Service's shows Norfolk International Airport recorded wind gusts of 61 miles per hour at 2:51 a.m.

At its peak, Dominion Virginia Power reported that 120,000 of its customers in Virginia and northeastern North Carolina were affected by the storm. Crews had restored power to all but a few thousand customers by mid-day.

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