- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Commuters around the metropolitan area should expect a repeat of yesterday’s storm-related road closures and transit delays for the morning rush hour.

“It’s not stopping, [and] we’re preparing for the worst,” said Joan Morris, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation. “It’s going to be a rather tense day or two coming up.”

Thunderstorms — which dropped as much as 10 inches in Hyattsville Sunday through yesterday — could continue through this weekend.

A flash-flood watch is in effect for the entire region through this evening, and forecasters are calling for between 3 to 6 inches of rain by tomorrow morning.

Yesterday, storms caused the closure of more than 20 roads in the District and dozens of intersections throughout the metropolitan area.

The inbound 12th Street tunnel, Constitution Avenue at 12th Street Northwest and South Capitol Street at Malcolm X Avenue were closed because of high water. Officials said they hoped to reopen the roads by last night.

“We hope for the best,” said Erik Linden, a spokesman for the District Department of Transportation. “Our crews stand ready.”

U.S. Park Police Sgt. Scott Fear said Rock Creek Parkway and Beach Drive in Northwest to the D.C.-Maryland line were closed because of flooding.

Metro temporarily closed the Archives-Navy Memorial and Federal Triangle stations yesterday, and stretches of several rail lines were closed.

“We don’t anticipate [any further problems], although we’re going to keep our eye in the sky and watch those areas we had issues with,” Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said.

Several downtown buildings shut their doors because of flooding or electrical problems, including the Internal Revenue Service headquarters, the Commerce Department, the Justice Department, the National Archives, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space and Natural History museums.

Archives officials said none of the building’s records or documents was damaged, but the building and the IRS building will remain closed today.

The federal government also is opening on time but with unscheduled leave available for employees.

The downpour prompted D.C. officials to activate the city’s Emergency Operations Center and distribute sandbags to the flood-prone Bloomingdale neighborhood.

In Virginia, Eisenhower Avenue leading to the Capital Beltway near Alexandria was closed due to a mudslide but reopened at about 3 p.m.

About a dozen other intersections were closed because of high water yesterday, and flash floods were reported in Fairfax, Herndon and Manassas Park.

“The message to motorists is: You’ve got to be alert,” Miss Morris said. If there’s “any water, don’t even think about [driving through it].”

David Buck, spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said lanes were closed on about 35 major roadways Sunday night.

A break in the showers between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. yesterday allowed crews to reopen most of the roads, Mr. Buck said.

However, Route 29 between New Hampshire Avenue and University Boulevard in Montgomery County was closed after the Potomac River overflowed its banks and broke through a dam, leaving about 6 feet of mud on the highway.

Officials hoped to have Route 29 opened by 5 p.m. yesterday and were working to reopen Routes 307 and 313.

“One of the things we’ll be dealing with is a lot of downed trees because the ground is so saturated,” Mr. Buck said.

Heavy rains were blamed for a fatal one-car crash on Route 50 in Maryland. It occurred about 3:30 p.m., east of the Glenarden Exit, when a woman apparently lost control of her car, officials said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Water rescues and evacuations were a key part of many suburban fire and police departments’ operations.

Firefighters also used boats to rescue 30 persons who were trapped inside a Chevy Chase recreation center for more than an hour Sunday night.

Fifteen homes in Prince George’s County were evacuated, and about 70 people had to be rescued in boats from waist-deep water and sheltered at Chillum Elementary School.

At least six homes flooded and 70 duplexes at the Arlington Terrace complex in the Huntington area were evacuated, fire spokeswoman Renee Stilwell said.

About 50 displaced people were being sheltered at Edison High School, and building inspectors condemned two of the duplexes, she said.

Capt. Tom Polera of the Arlington Fire Department said his force was “inundated” with calls about road closures, downed power lines and water damage — all while the department battled a two-alarm house fire.

Power outages in the District and in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties fluctuated between 9,700 and more than 12,700, according to the Potomac Electric Power Co. (Pepco).

The number of outages yesterday was relatively low, but trees continually fell on lines because of the waterlogged ground, Pepco officials said.

“The irony is that it’s not that large a number of outages, but it’s continuous,” said Pepco spokesman Bob Dobkin. “We restore customers and get new outages.”

The flooding and traffic problems have hampered repairs.

“Our crews are having the same problems other people are, they have to get through traffic just like anyone else,” Mr. Dobkin said.

Dominion Virginia Power reported 3,312 outages by the close of business yesterday, a small fraction of the 87,000 outages it has tracked in the area since 2 a.m. Friday, spokesman Dan Genest said. Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. reported more than 5,750 outages.

Meanwhile, Verizon received twice as many telephone-service requests as normal and called in “extra resources” for the week until the weather clears, a spokesman said yesterday, declining to give further information.

• Amy Doolittle and Marie Tyler contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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