DDOT working on plan to close part of Rhode Island Ave. in response to flash flooding

In order to help prevent devastating flooding in the area of Northeast D.C., the District Department of Transportation told WTOP that a plan is in the works that would initiate a road closure if powerful storms are coming to the area.

DDOT says it is currently working on a standard operating procedure that will allow the office to activate Traffic Enforcement Officers to specific locations in coordination with the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency in the event of Flash Flood Watches or warnings.

Once a Flash Flood Watch is issued, DDOT will deploy these officers to the areas of Rhode Island Avenue that are most prone to flooding and will close the road to vehicular traffic during hours of operations.

DDOT said that D.C. police will provide support when a storm happens outside of the normal hours of operation for DDOT and on the weekends.

Additionally, DDOT told WTOP that they will be installing solar-powered Flash Flood Warning beacons at both ends of the road prior to the underpass.

DC officials respond to frustration over lack of answers

Four days after floodwaters inundated a dog day care in Northeast D.C., killing 10 animals, many questions remain about when firefighters were told people and dogs needed help inside District Dogs.

Claims that initial calls were labeled as “a water leak” and if that led to a delayed response, are among the questions posed to city leaders, but still, few answers have been provided.

During a press conference on public safety on Thursday, City Administrator Kevin Donahue said an investigation is underway into the response.

He said on Monday evening, a firefighter in the area of Rhode Island Avenue self-dispatched to the area to help drivers stranded in the 6 feet of water that moved into the area underneath railcar bridges.

Donahue said after reviewing Computer-Assisted/Aided Dispatch or CAD report, it showed three calls came in about the flooding at District Dogs on Monday evening.

“Each of the calls came from different individuals, two of them from out of the jurisdiction, one from — the last one — at 5:18 p.m. from, it looks like, individuals who were inside of District Dogs,” Donahue said.

With the first two calls, Donahue didn’t elaborate on how those individuals were connected to District Dogs or knew about the flooding.

On Monday, several dog owners told WTOP they watched the businesses webcams and saw the floodwaters come in.

While not answering when exactly firefighters nearby realized help was needed at the dog day care, Donahue did acknowledge when the message was sent out from dispatchers.

“That information was communicated over the dispatch, after the call that came from the individuals who were inside,” Donahue said.

The third call was received 12 minutes after the initial 911 call about the flooding.

Donahue said he listened to all three calls, and while the first two calls spoke of flooding, the third, to him, revealed how dire the situation was.

“What is still getting identified, and that I think is needed to really paint the full picture, is looking through and transcribing some of the radio traffic, to be able to understand the time frames in which the firefighters on scene became aware that there [were] individuals who were trapped inside of District Dogs and dogs who are trapped inside of District Dogs,” Donahue said.

Despite numerous calls for answers, Donahue said he didn’t want to comment further until an after-action report is completed. He said that the city’s investigation into the events will also include interviews with dispatchers and others who worked that evening.

WTOP’s Valerie Bonk contributed to this report. 

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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