- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 16, 2004

The remnants of Tropical Storm Ivan are expected to drench the Washington area with up to five inches of rain this weekend, prompting area officials to brace for flooding along the Potomac and to reschedule some events.

The National Weather Service yesterday issued flood watches through tomorrow for several low-lying areas throughout the region, including Alexandria and Loudoun County in Northern Virginia and Frederick County in Western Maryland.

Meteorologists expect certain areas along the Potomac to rise as high as 16 feet by Monday.

The Weather Service predicts that Ivan — downgraded yesterday to a tropical storm — will bring heavy rain to the area and wind gusts of up to 20 mph until early Sunday.

Brett Sweeney, division chief of maintenance for Alexandria’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services, said the city is prepared for any flooding.

“All city staff is on alert, everybody and their brother are aware,” Mr. Sweeney said.

National Weather Service senior meteorologist Nikole Listemaa said a weak front expected to move through the area this weekend might collide with Ivan and bring even heavier rains.

The threat of heavy rain and flooding has led some officials in Maryland to reschedule or cancel some weekend events.

A Fairchild Aircraft workers reunion planned for tomorrow at the Hagerstown Regional Airport was postponed indefinitely.

At least five high-school football games involving teams from Allegany, Washington and Carroll counties were bumped up to yesterday from today to avoid possible weather problems.

In response to the flooding potential in Alexandria, Mr. Sweeney said city officials will set up stockpiles of sandbags today in Old Town Alexandria, an area especially prone to flooding, and distribute bags to businesses. The city also plans to set up a self-serve station, where residents can make their own sandbags.

Bill Routzahn, superintendent of highway operations for Frederick County’s Division of Public Works, said the county will ensure that its flood-emergency equipment is in place ahead of the storm.

Yet, Mr. Routzahn said most of the county’s response to any flooding likely will happen after the storm passes.

“Usually if we have flooding, there’s nothing we can do until the rain is over,” Mr. Routzahn said. “Until the water recedes, we can’t really see what damage we have.”

Ivan, which made landfall early yesterday near Gulf Shores Beach, Ala., has been blamed for at least 20 U.S. deaths, most of them in Florida.

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