SALEM — Although Virginia’s coast will be likely spared from a direct hit from Hurricane Florence, heavy rains capable of causing major flooding in southwestern Virginia still are expected as the storm heads north over the next two to five days. The Virginia Department of Transportation encourages residents not to become complacent in emergency planning as travel could still be impacted in portions of Virginia by downed trees, washed-out roads and damaged bridges. With additional rains forecasted to fall onto already saturated soil, flooding could be significant, particularly in low-lying areas. Heavy rains will not only cause streams and creeks to overflow, but in mountainous terrain, as flood waters rush to low-lying areas, conditions can change very rapidly damaging homes and businesses and hindering emergency response. VDOT reminds motorists of the following:
- “Turn around, don’t drown!” Never drive or walk through water flowing across a road. It takes only six to 12 inches of water to float a small vehicle.
- Never drive around barricades. Remember, the road has been closed for your safety.
- Be alert for tree limbs and other debris in the roadway. Even small branches and other debris can damage a car or cause the driver to lose control.
- If you come across a downed power line, do not try to move it. Contact your local authorities.
- If you come across an inoperable traffic signal, treat the intersection as a four-way stop. State law requires that you stop and ensure the intersection is clear before proceeding.
- Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded and watch out for debris. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways.
To report downed trees, hazardous road conditions or talk to a customer service representative, call VDOT’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623). To get the latest road conditions, call 511, go to www.511virginia.org or download the mobile app at the 511 web site. Traffic information is also available on Twitter @511southwestva. For general VDOT information, follow @VaDOTSalem.