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Potomac Flooding Still A Risk Through Wednesday

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The Potomac River came within inches of overflowing a wooden riverfront walkway  during high tide Tuesday, Oct. 30.
Armando Trull
The Potomac River came within inches of overflowing a wooden riverfront walkway  during high tide Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Now that life is returning to normal in the D.C. area, officials are focusing on the last threat posed by Hurricane Sandy's aftermath: flooding.

Government offices, schools and Metro are open again and people are returning to work and sitting in traffic once more. The storm lingers, however, and District Director of Homeland Security Chris Geldart won't exhale until the Potomac calms. The threat of flooding will last through the day Wednesday.

"It dumped a whole lot of rain and wet snow in the mountains that will be getting into the Potomac River and heading back down this way," Geldart said Tuesday.

It is unlikely any flooding would be severe enough to force homes to be evacuated, Mayor Vincent Gray said Tuesday. Flooding is still a concern in Montgomery County as well. Sligo Creek Parkway remains closed because of high water in the creek as well as portions of Beach Drive. Rock Creek, the Potomac and Anacostia rivers are beign closely monitored in case of flooding over the next few days; yesterday, the Potomac came up King Street in Old Town Alexandria and within inches of overflowing the boardwalk along the Georgetown waterfront.

The flood could pose not only a safety risk but also a health risk, after 240 million gallons of overflow was discharged into these waterways by the District's sewage system, according to the Washington Post. The overflow, which is a combination of raw sewage and rainwater made up of a majority of stormwater, according to DC Water, is allowed to flow into waterways during periods of heavy rainfall. 

While Sandy did not devastate the District, the response has been costly, and President Obama has promised swift help, the mayor says.

"To quote the president, he said, 'I'm going to cut through all the red tape and all the bureaucracy to get this done,'" Gray said. Gray's emergency declaration issued before Sandy's landfall could help the District recoup 75 percent of its costs responding to the hurricane.

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