Torrential rain causes flash flooding in Wakefield

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
By: Terry Harris, Staff Writer
Posted: June 8, 2019 | 7:50 a.m.
Updated: June 8, 2019 | 10:30 a.m.

TOWN OF WAKEFIELD – Hours of steady and, at times, locally heavy rainfall across Central and Southside Virginia created dangerous conditions in Sussex County as that continued precipitation triggered flash flooding in the Town of Wakefield, covering roadways in water and affecting local businesses.

Friday afternoon, several inches of water covered sections of U.S. Route 460, which runs through the heart of the Town of Wakefield and nearby connecting roads. Much of the iconic Virginia Diner’s parking lot was underwater into the evening as rain continued to fall steadily in the area into Saturday morning.

Nearby businesses, including a barbershop and John Deere dealership were also impacted by the flood waters, according to those living in the area.

Throughout Friday, the National Weather Service office, which is only a short drive away from the Town of Wakefield, had issued a number of flood warnings, including a flood advisory that was in effect until 3 a.m. Saturday morning for much of Sussex County and points south and east of the county.

According to their gauge near Wakefield, over five inches of rain fell in the area in 24 hours.

The Virginia Diner, a fixture for drivers traveling to the beach and the community of Wakefield sits on a virtual island after flash flooding covered the restaurant’s parking lot and nearby U.S. Route 460, resulting in temporary closures in each direction. (Contributed Image)

The weather agency reported, as of midnight Saturday, “Up to 3 to 6 inches of rain have already fallen” in many of the advised areas, with an additional inch of rain possible during early Saturday morning.

“This additional rain may exacerbate ongoing flooding,” officials with the Wakefield weather service office said late Friday.

According to Virginia 511, the state’s transportation portal for road conditions, U.S. Route 460 was under alternating lane closures into the overnight hours of Saturday morning. As of Saturday morning, Virginia 511 reported other communities, including nearby Charles City County as having a number of roads that were completely flooded following hours of rainfall.

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In their hazardous weather outlook Friday, the National Weather Service forecasted continued showers with locally heavy rainfall. They further reported, “Scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms will be possible across the … area over the weekend into early next week,” adding, “Continued locally heavy rainfall is the primary concern with storms on Sunday and Monday.”

On their Facebook page, Virginia Diner said they suffered some “light damage” inside their restaurant from Friday’s flooding and most of the water had drained away by mid-morning Saturday but, to allow for clean-up, the diner would be closed all day Saturday. They said they expect to be open Sunday at 7 a.m. to begin serving guests.

As of this report, the extent of damage to other properties in the area, if any, has not been revealed by local or county officials.

With these conditions expecting to remain in the region through the weekend into Monday, local weather officials and public safety agencies remind drivers to not drive through standing water as the water could be deeper than it appears and could be moving faster than it seems.

“Turn around, don’t drown when encountering flooded roads,” NWS officials said Friday. “Most flood deaths occur in vehicles.”

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