- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Heavy rainfall is expected to continue today in the already waterlogged metropolitan region, which likely will result in snarled commutes and high water in low areas.

“Into the first part of Thursday, it could get dicey,” Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Silver Spring, said yesterday.

“[Drivers] should anticipate delays and allow plenty of time to get to work, or even check to see if it’s necessary to come in.”

The Weather Service yesterday issued a flash-flood watch for the region through this morning, with 3 to 8 inches of rain anticipated.

“With the grounds as saturated as they are, even a half-inch in some places could cause flooding,” Mr. Feltgen said.

Officials at theWeather Service are looking into whether a tornado touched down last night in Chaptico, Md., damaging farm buildings.

“We are fairly certain it was a tornado, but nobody saw it touch down,” said Sgt. Philip Joseph, a spokesman for the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department.

The Weather Service report said the possible twister appeared at 6:10 p.m. near Chaptico.

Mr. Feltgen said the Weather Service will look at the damage soon to determine whether to classify it as a tornado.

Three barns — including one filled with hay — and a machine shed on a family farm were seriously damaged, but no homes were hit.

Sgt. Joseph said there were no injuries.

Maryland officials had closed more than 30 major roadways since Sunday night; only a few had not been reopened by yesterday afternoon.

David Buck, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said an early morning break in the torrential downpours yesterday made for a quiet rush hour.

“We had a pretty decent respite [yesterday],” Mr. Buck said. “But as far as [preparations], there isn’t much that can be done — other than close the roads, put up barricades and be patient and wait for Mother Nature to do her thing.”

Karyn LeBlanc, a spokeswoman for the District Department of Transportation, said crews would be deployed throughout the evening to keep roads cleared of debris and downed trees.

Constitution Avenue remained closed between 12th and 17th streets Northwest yesterday afternoon, and Independence Avenue was shut down between Sixth and Ninth streets Northwest. Access was restricted at South Capitol Street and Malcolm X Avenue Southeast.

Much of Rock Creek Parkway and Beach Drive was closed yesterday afternoon while crews scraped mud from the streets and siphoned off water.

By noon, the creek was full of mud-yellow water from bank to bank. Creeks were littered with fallen trees and branches.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen it this high,” said Roscoe Harper, 63, foreman with the National Zoo’s service unit and an employee for 23 years.

Phoebe Slocum of Northeast said the rain coincided with the failure of a drain in her back yard, resulting in water in her house.

“I was up at 1 a.m., bailing water out of my kitchen,” Miss Slocum said. “That wasn’t fun.”

Brin Lewis of Northeast said the rain came at an inopportune time for him, because his parents were visiting from out of town for the weekend. The bad weather extinguished his barbecue plans and rained on the Nationals baseball game he attended Saturday.

And yesterday morning, his power went out.

“I’ve never seen it like this,” said Mr. Lewis, a D.C. resident for 16 years. “I’ve never seen it rain this long, this consistently. I don’t want to hear anybody talk about a drought for the rest of the summer.”

As of yesterday afternoon, Potomac Electric Power Co. had about 3,800 reported power outages, mostly in Montgomery County. Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. reported about 2,600 outages, the majority of them in Harford County, Md.

Dominion Virginia Power reported about 1,000 outages, including 523 in Northern Virginia.

Metro’s rail system was still recovering from water damage suffered Monday in the automatic control room for the Federal Triangle station. Trains were running through the station but at a reduced speed, causing slight delays, Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said.

The control room should be repaired by next week, Mr. Taubenkibel said. “As long as Mother Nature gives the region a break, we should be fine.”

Across the region, jurisdictions braced themselves for the next round of storms, with many town officials urging residents to leave for higher ground.

In Old Town Alexandria — an area on the Potomac River prone to flooding — residents and merchants kept sandbags on standby.

City officials said they expect minor flooding during high tide. Police closed off a portion of King Street after yesterday’s high tide brought water over a section of the street.

Last night, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams declared a state of public emergency in anticipation of more heavy rain today. It allows the mayor emergency access to resources to assist people whose homes and businesses were damaged by the storms, said his spokeswoman, Sharon Gang.

Two teenagers were missing last night in Frederick County, Md., after telling their parents that they were going to rain-swollen Little Pipe Creek.

Police said the water level was treacherous.

The father of one of the teenagers — ages 14 and 15 — called 911 at 7:20 p.m. after they failed to return to their home in Keymar.

Two bicycles and clothing were found near the creek, which runs from Frederick County to Taneytown in Carroll County.

In Alleghany County, Va., an 8-year-old girl was swept away by floodwaters yesterday after falling into either Dunlap Creek or a culvert near her home in the Callaghan area just before 2 p.m.

Officials in Anne Arundel County, Md., advised residents to voluntarily evacuate parts of the Brockbridge Road area.

County Executive Janet S. Owens called for residents in the communities of Brockbridge Estates, Parkway Village Mobile Home Park and low-lying areas of Brockbridge Road to evacuate as early as possible.

In Carroll County, Md., firefighters last night rescued four persons who had been trapped in a house surrounded by high water in Mount Airy.

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission opened seven gates on the T. Howard Duckett Dam late Monday evening to keep the Rocky Gorge Reservoir from overflowing, which forced about 35 residents to evacuate their homes, officials said.

In nearby Laurel, a voluntary evacuation of areas along the Patuxent River was advised about four hours before the gates were opened, said town spokeswoman Carreen Koubek.

The evacuation advisory was lifted at 8 a.m. yesterday after the rains stopped and the water levels returned to a manageable level, she said.

• Stephanie De Pasquale and Nathan Bomey contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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