Northern Virginia could qualify for federal aid after July flash flooding

The devastating flash flooding in July that left people stranded on the roofs of their cars, washed out roads and flooded homes caused at least $14 million in damage in Fairfax County, Virginia, alone, but the county is optimistic a federal disaster declaration will be approved soon.

A disaster designation based on damage assessments in Arlington County would allow homeowners and businesses in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County to apply for low-interest federal loans beginning as soon as next week to help pay for repairs.

Fairfax County Emergency Management Coordinator Seamus Mooney expects the designation to be approved within the next two weeks.

The county estimates $2 million in its own costs for response and repairs, $6 million for the Virginia Department of Transportation, and has tallied around $7 million in reported damages to 277 homes and businesses, Mooney said Tuesday.

Fairfax County plans to waive permit fees for storm repairs.

Though eligible people can apply online, an in-person application center is also planned at the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library if federal approvals come through.

About 5 inches of rain fell in less than two hours in places including McLean and Vienna on July 8.

It was a scale of rainfall the storm water systems simply are not designed for, said Fairfax County Department of Public Works head Randy Bartlett.

Fairfax County Fire Rescue ran 56 swift water rescues between 8:20 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. that day. Though most roads that flooded were only closed temporarily, others saw more extensive damage. Prosperity Avenue was closed for a week after the storms; Swinks Mill Road and Kirby Road, even longer.

“We need to put pressure on VDOT. They’re telling us it’s going to be months before they get our road network back in place. That’s not acceptable. We don’t have an adequate network today,” Supervisor John Foust said.

Arlington and Alexandria have their own significant costs, largely tied to roadway problems.

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