Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 September 2019

Dangerous flash floods leave Washington DC commuters stranded

A slow-moving rainstorm soaks the White House basement

A slow-moving storm washed out roads, stranded drivers and soaked the White House basement during heavy rainfall in the US capital.

Water gushed into the press workspace in the cellar near the White House’s West Wing. Government employees worked to drain puddles of standing water with vacuum soppers.

Flooding led to power cuts that closed the National Archives Building and Museum, said a statement from the National Archives, which also said the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were safe.

Cody Ledbetter, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said the storm dumped about 16 centimetres of rain near Frederick, Maryland, about 11cm near Arlington, Virginia, and about 8cm at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in a two-hour period.

“The storm was not moving very quickly,” Mr Ledbetter said.

Water levels at Cameron Run in Alexandria, Virginia, a flood-prone area along the Capital Beltway, rose more than two metres in 30 minutes, the weather service said.

A similar increase was seen at Four Mile Run, which flows through Arlington and Alexandria.

Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the fire department in Montgomery County, Maryland, said emergency workers responded to dozens of rescue calls and used boats to pluck people from flooded cars.

“Everywhere I turned, there was traffic and roads closed,” he said.

Mr Piringer said he had not immediately received any reports of storm-related injuries.

In northern Virginia, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue said it responded to more than 30 calls for swift water rescues throughout the county.

Gretchen Eisenberg’s morning commute usually lasts 10 minutes. It took her almost an hour to drive to work from her Frederick home.

She stopped to take a video of a Frederick park inundated with raging floodwaters.

“I tried to take my normal route, but I had to turn around and take a different way in because of the flooding,” she said.

Updated: July 9, 2019 01:03 PM

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