STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - After facing severe flooding twice already over the last two weeks, Hurricane Laura is forecast to bring even more rain to the Staunton area. The city is already mobilizing to prevent more damage.
Right now, the National Weather Service is only predicting 1-2 inches of rain will fall on Staunton from the hurricane’s remnants. Due to the saturation of the soil, city officials say that could still cause flooding.
The Wharf District was one of the hardest hit areas in both flooding events. The city has set up sand and bags there for community members to take as needed. The Mary Baldwin University Women’s Soccer Team and Head Coach Amanda Evans were on hand, filling and tying bags for the community. Evans, doing it all with a 6-month-old on her back.
“We’ve been out here for at least a couple of hours. I would say we probably filled up at least more than 200 bags,” Evans said. “We’re just still going and getting as many as we can so when people pull up we can help them out.”
Sandbags from the pile already line restaurants and shops around the Wharf District. The Bistro is one such restaurant. There, owner Jeff Ramsey is hard at work picking up the pieces left by the last two flash floods.
“To turn around and get hit two Saturdays after that, it was even more of a shock,” Ramsey said. “Especially after you’d spent two weeks rebuilding again, that was a bit of a setback.”
While he would prefer no more storms on the horizon, at least this one they can see coming. “We’re a little more prepared this time,” he explained. “The floodgates are out, we’ll have those in place. We’ve taken some other stuff. Fortunately, when the hurricane’s on the way, we know about it.”
The city has already announced several emergency measures. It is clearing debris from creeks and storm drains to keep water levels from rising. Its also beginning a slow release of water from Lake Tams to prevent flooding downstream.
“Nothing is a silver bullet, obviously,” Staunton City Building Official and Floodplain Administrator John Glover said. “Not that there’s an overall solution but all these things together can help reduce the impacts of the flooding and just watch the weather.”
The city is encouraging people living in low lying areas to deploy flood shields and sandbags if they have them. It also encourages all residents to secure outdoor furniture and trash cans so they don’t blow away. Click here for a full list of recommendations.