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Strong nor’easter damages waterfront

by Larry S. Chowning

Video footage of “the perfect storm” provided by the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office.
The nor’easter that struck the Tidewater area last week kept Middlesex County waterfront homeowners on pins and needles, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as earlier storms such as Hurricane Isabel in 2003 or Tropical Storm Ernesto in 2006.

The nor’easter and the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida combined to cause destructive tides, high winds and torrential rain, and inflict significant damage along the county’s waterfront. The storm also closed county schools for a day and a half.

“We did not declare a local emergency, so we did not open shelters,” said county administrator Charles Culley. “We have had a lot of piers, bulkheads and rip-rap damaged, and some minor flooding of homes and cottages in the lower end of the county.”

County building official David Selph said several houses were flooded on White Point Road in Deltaville and Sandy Beach Road at North End. “The water was not quite as high as Isabel, so everyone fared pretty well. It was more of a surprise that caught some people off guard.”

Cinder block cottages built on cement slabs and close to the river received the most damage, said Selph. 

A couple living on White Point Cove (between Broad Creek and the Rappahannock River) had water outside two inches above their door. “They used sandbags and kept the water from coming inside under the door,” said Selph.

Video by Jennifer Holloway of Deltaville Marina & Boatyard.
“I don’t know of any structural damage to any homes in the county, but there is a lot of cleaning up going on in homes and on properties,” said Selph. “People on high ground fared much better and are picking up sticks and raking leaves, but very little water damage was done elsewhere.”

Selph said there has been some over-wash behind bulkheads and his office is receiving calls from people wanting to know what they have to do to refill the bulkheads.

Jay Henley, who lives on the Rappahannock River at Wake, said, “The water lacked about a foot of being the height of Isabel. It knocked out two 16-foot sections of my pier. Other than that, the wind blew a few shingles off my roof and blew our lawn chairs into our neighbor’s yard. It wasn’t good, but it could have been a lot worse.”

Several sailboats in Urbanna Creek had their sails damaged by the storm and there was minor damage to several marinas. Town administrator Lewis Filling said the town marina was “a mess. We’ve been cleaning up debris, but we did not have any major damage.”

There also was a tree down on the corner of Rappahannock Avenue and Howard Street in town. “Basically, we were very, very lucky,” said Filling.

A representative from Locklies Marina at Topping said the high water and wind created more of an inconvenience than anything else. “There was no significant damage to docks, piers or boats. We had high water and plenty of rain, but that’s about it,” said the representative.

General Manager Doug Respress of Norview Marina in Deltaville said the carpet in the marina’s ship store got wet and a lot of debris floated onto the property. “Some of our docks got torn up where the boat ramp is located,” he said. “I also heard some people elsewhere lost their boats, but this wasn’t anything like Isabel.”

According to the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, a 61-mile-per-hour wind gust was registered at the Rappahannock Light at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 12.

Rainfall totals for Urbanna from November 11-15 measured 5.84 inches, according to data documented and published by the National Weather Service website. Some areas of the county received 7 inches of rain.

There were 18 reports of downed trees, trees on power lines and washed-out or washing-out roadways reported within a 48-hour period from Nov.12-14, said the sheriff’s office. VDOT crews were on duty to handle road-clearing operations around the county when they could get to them safely.

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posted 11.18.2009

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