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Cleanup Follows Four-Day Deluge

Following storm, Vienna returns to normalcy.

During last week’s record-setting rainfall, Vienna fared better than many other parts of the metropolitan area. As of Monday morning, June 26, said Director of Public Works Dennis King, the town had seen about nine inches of rainfall in the previous week, with much of it falling on Sunday, and heavy rains had continued through Monday and on into Tuesday. The area’s average rainfall for the entire month of June is in the neighborhood of three inches.

King noted that Vienna’s drainage system was built to handle a 10-year storm, while, by some accounts, last week’s weather was equivalent to a 300-year storm. “This really was of biblical proportions,” he said.

King reported that he had heard of several residential basements flooding and that several intersections in town experienced flooding and traffic light power outages. Most road flooding, he said, occurred on the west end of town, at the intersection of Maple Avenue and Follin Lane and along Wolftrap Creek, where the creek runs under Echols Street and again where it runs under Follin Lane. King said traffic signals went out at three intersections — Maple Avenue and Follin Lane, Echols Street and Beulah Road, and Beulah Road and Maple Avenue — which he said the town “quickly got back online.”

The Department of Public Works managed to do most maintenance and repairs during normal work hours, said King, although a few crews were sent out in the evenings to handle the dead traffic lights and to barricade flooded streets.

BY THURSDAY, crews were working to clear debris from the town’s creeks and culverts, as well as from Follin Lane and Echols Street where they cross Wolftrap Creek, and King said he expected the cleanup to be completed by the end of the day.

He also noted that there were some problems with phone lines, particularly at Town Hall and the Community Center, where phones were down on Monday and worked only intermittently on Tuesday.

“We made out pretty well, really, for the amount of rain that we had,” he said.

King said the only flooding he had heard about in a commercial building was in the Starbucks near Maple Avenue and Center Street, another intersection that saw flooding.

Water began coming into the store around 8:30 Sunday night, said Assistant Manager Michelle De St Jean, who added that flooding in the road had also damaged her car, which had been parked nearby on Center Street. The water level in the store reached about a foot deep, she said, and began to ebb within about 45 minutes as the rain subsided.

The Department of Public Works brought sandbags to place in front of the doors to help keep water out.

De St Jean also reported that about four cars were stalled in the intersection in front of the Starbucks that night after attempting to drive through the water that had accumulated there.

The water eventually made its own way out of the store, she said. “After that, we just had some contractors come and do a deep-clean.”

OUTSIDE TOWN, the bridge where the W&OD Trail crosses Piney Branch had to be shut down, although a temporary, makeshift bridge was set up on the horse path that runs parallel to the trail. The embankments under the bridge had been held in place by stonework that was built in the 1850s during the construction of the railroad bed on which the trail now sits, said Paul Gilbert, executive director of Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. Chunks of stone fell from the embankment during the downpour, leaving the bridge unstable.

"The power of the water eroded underneath the stonework, so they could drop down," said Gilbert. "It essentially could collapse at any time." He said Park Authority crews are working to stabilize the bridge and that he expects repairs to take about a month. In the meantime, he said, cyclists and pedestrians can use the temporary bridge on the horse path.

Gilbert noted that the damage to the bridge was the biggest challenge last week's weather presented to the Park Authority.