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Possibility Of Flooding Looms Over Region

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The Belleview neighborhood in Fairfax, Va., floods regularly.
Jonathan Wilson
The Belleview neighborhood in Fairfax, Va., floods regularly.

With steady rains hitting the metro area, storm water management teams from several counties have been deployed to keep an eye on things.

Emergency management officials across the metro area are warning motorists to watch for high water and flooding as heavy rains continue impact the evening commute.

High standing water is being reported across the metro area. With heavy rains continuing to impact the area officials are warning motorists that commuting will be difficult. They're advising motorists to avoid high standing water by finding alternate routes.

Officials also say that navigating in the dark will be difficult for motorists because it'll be hard to tell how deep the water is.

Maryland Natural Resources Police say boating and other recreational uses of the upper Potomac River and its creeks and streams should be avoided.

Fairfax maintenance and repair crews have been busy dealing with high water or other drainage problems in several spots across the county.

In this town home subdivision near Newington, county workers were working to clear out a backed-up storm drain before the water creeped into a basement about 10 yards away. Steve Aitcheson, the stormwater management director for the county, says it has taken longer than expected to clear this blockage.

"In this case we're not completely sure what it is -- it appears to be something metal, it could be a car part, or part of a bicycle...but it's something than the router is having trouble getting through and busting the blockage out," he says.

Riding along with Aitcheson is Jonathan Murray, an environmental supervisor who, like Aitcheson, has worked for Fairfax for 22 years.

He says their strategy is no longer to try to block and redirect stormwater, instead they to try help it gradually work its way back into the environment.

"It's hard to contain water -- mother nature -- you can't do it...but I think we can try to live with it," he says.

Kim Reyes was among the first to grab a few of the sandbags the city of Alexandria handed out. The basement in her house on Spring Street in Old Town already flooded once this week.

"Soaked stairs -- an inch or two that we were constantly sweeping up into the sump pump," she says.

City crews were out ahead of the anticipated rains clearing drainage basins of leaves and other winter debris. City Communications Director Tony Castrilli says this should only be a moderate flooding event as far as Old Town goes, but he also urges residents to do their part to protect their homes and help the city.

"We're reminding people to clear out their gutters, make sure their sump-pumps and turned on a ready, and also if they have storm drains in front of their homes -- help the city and clear them out as well," he says.

In the more suburban areas of Prince William and Fairfax, roads near streams and low-lying areas are likely to see flooding over the course of the day. Emergency Service officials are urging drivers not to try to drive through standing water.

So far Murray says the flooding has been lighter than expected, but local crews still have to keep an eye on things later Thursday night. The Potomac River and the many streams connected to it hit high tide again around 11:30 p.m.

A flood warning is in effect for the region, as well as a coastal flood warning, which is in effect until 3 a.m. Friday. A tornado warning was in effect in parts of Maryland and Virginia Thursday until 7:30 p.m. NBC4 offers a forecast for Thursday night through the weekend in the D.C. area, as well as maps and severe weather alerts.

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