Evacuations ordered in flood-prone Fairfax neighborhood

One Huntington neighborhood resident is preparing ahead of the storm with sandbags. (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)
A Fairfax County police officer talks to a resident of the Huntington neighborhood warning about potential flooding due to Hurricane Sandy. (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)
Fairfax County police went door-to-door in the Huntington neighborhood Sunday, distributing flyers to warn residents about the impending superstorm. (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)

UPDATE 9:51 p.m. 10/29/12:

WASHINGTON – Fairfax County has ordered Fenwick Drive and Arlington Terrace in the Huntington area to evacuate immediately meanwhile other neighborhoods are put on notice that they too may need to leave.

Power will be turned off to the two streets as necessary. Buses will be available at 2400 Huntington Avenue to take displaced residents to the Lee District RECenter, 6601 Telegraph Road, Alexandria.

County spokeswoman Merni Fitzgerald said the order applies to about 125 households. That’s a majority of the 200 or so homes in the neighborhood that have been subject to flooding during heavy storms in recent years.

County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova says that Monday evening the area is experiencing street-level flooding but that conditions in the neighborhood can deteriorate rapidly. Officials wanted to pull out residents before water begins flooding basements and homes.

Bulova tells WTOP that Fairfax County officials are also watching New Alexandria neighborhoods including Belle Haven and Belle View for flooding that could also require evacuations.

“There’s a possibility that we may need to evacuate in that area as well, and if so that would be very early (Tuesday) morning,” she says.

Bulova says the county fire or police will knock on residents’ doors to let them know what to do.

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

HUNTINGTON, Va. – The possibility of flooding from the “Frankenstorm” is worrisome for many people. But for those who live in the Huntington section of Fairfax County, the storm could bring a recurring nightmare.

Dozens of homes have been flooded in Huntington three times in the last 10 years, including in 2011. Residents like James Caton are getting ready again. Holding his toddler, he came out to watch police canvass his neighborhood with flyers.

“We’ve moved everything up from the basement to the top floor and from the first floor to the top floor and loaded a week’s worth of clothes into our minivan for our little one,” Caton says.

Fairfax County police spent parts of Saturday and Sunday going door-to-door in the neighborhood distributing fliers. Capt. Randy Joyce, commander of the county’s Mount Vernon Police District, says authorities will be watching the neighborhood.

“We will also have officers in the area throughout their shift monitoring just the neighborhood and the floods,” he says.

Joyce also advises residents to make accommodations for their pets.

Huntington residents are encouraged to move their cars to higher ground, and can park their cars on several county property lots, including libraries, the park authority facility, county school lots (only while schools are closed and only in designated spaces), and on the street across Huntington Avenue.

Nearby, resident Jason Todd was finishing up preparations. His basement filled with 7 feet of water when Hurricane Irene hit last September. This time, he says he’s ready.

“I have supplies for my generator in case the power goes out, sandbags and then boards for my windows to keep them from busting out,” Todd says.

Ironically, the new threat of flooding comes just a week or so before Fairfax County voters are being asked to approve a $30 million dollar bond measure to build a levee and pumping station to protect the Huntington neighborhood.

The irony is not lost on local resident Shane McAlister.

“It’s the October surprise of the Fairfax County elections,” he says.

Both McAlister and Todd say they support the bond measure and hope others in the county will see what’s happening this week and approve it.

Some who oppose the bond say there are less expensive alternatives. But McAlister, noting the presence of police and fire personnel handing out the fliers, says inaction may ultimately cost taxpayers more.

Follow Hank Silverberg and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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