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HomeNewsArchivesFlash Floods Wreaking Havoc in Frederiksted

Flash Floods Wreaking Havoc in Frederiksted

Emancipation Drive was quickly eroding due to flash flooding. Flash floods Wednesday in Frederiksted, which many residents say are the worst in memory, have done severe damage to parts of the Frederiksted waterfront and nearby roads. (See links at story’s end for video footage and image gallery of the flooding).
“This is just tremendous,” said Phylis Joseph of Estate La Grange. “I’ve never seen rain or flooding like this, and I was here for Hugo.”
La Grange is cut off to motor vehicles in both directions. At 2 p.m. a riotous four-foot-deep cataract rolled across Concordia Rd., carrying trees and debris toward the sea. In the other direction, water began at Rotary West, increasing to more than three-feet deep for several hundred yards, making the road impassable that direction to vehicles smaller than a firetruck.
Frederiksted Gut is flooding and has washed away several sections of Emancipation Drive between Fort Frederik and Concordia, cutting off access by vehicle from that direction. A group of stranded motorists, V.I. National Guard soldiers and police gathered at the intersection of Concordia and Emancipation, which was as close to town as the flooding would allow a car to drive.
“We had really heavy rains during Hurricane Hortense, but not like this,” said V.I. Police Sgt. Cecil Gumbs, who was there in the afternoon with several officers waiting for floodwaters to recede enough to drive an SUV through.
Seventy-five-year-old Angel Romero, who was born and raised in Frederiksted, said he has also never seen flooding like this in town. “We’ve had flooding, but not where it breaks through the road like this,” Romero said.
South of Frederiksted, lightning struck a mahogany tree on the Good Hope School campus while two students were walking by. Neither of the two young women were injured, according to Good Hope Headmistress Raquel Cedano. Students were sent home as early so parents could get to the flooded campus and pick up their children, according to one parent. Meanwhile, public schools on St. Croix closed at 1 p.m. and government offices at 2 p.m. Several people have been stranded by floodwaters, Gumbs said, including at least one person on a bridge in Estate Golden Grove that needed to be rescued.
V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency Director Mark Walters and Public Works Commissioner Daryl Smalls were conferring on their response when they were reached by phone Wednesday afternoon.Walters confirmed there have been several strandings, but said there were no reports of anyone being harmed.
“We have had to do a number of rescues of people who became stranded trying to go through areas that are flooded,” he said. “We are expecting this to go on through tonight and tomorrow, so we urge everyone to stay off the roads.”
Asked if this was really the heaviest flooding in memory on St. Croix, Walters said it was possible.
“I could believe that,” he said. “We may end up breaking a number of records. We had record rainfall for Hurricane Otto, I believe. Then I think Wednesday was a record day; the whole month of October may go down as one of our wettest months ever, and this year may go down as the wettest year ever, so we may be seeing several records broken.”
While Frederiksted is impacted the worst, flooding has affected all of St. Croix. (See "Rains Blanket Territory, St. Croix Hit Hardest" for more details).
While the rains continue, both VITEMA and Public Works are in a response phase, standing by to take care of rescues and preparing for the aftermath, Smalls and Walters said.
“As soon as the rain subsides we will do an assessment,” Smalls said. “After that, we will do emergency repairs and, of course, permanent repairs after that.”
Funding will also be a challenge, Smalls said. President Barack Obama recently declared the territory a federal disaster area after earlier rains. “We need to now assess the situation since that time and see where we stand.”
Smalls too urged St. Croix residents to stay off the roads.
“Let the emergency responders out there do their job,” he said. “Don’t go out unless it’s a dire emergency.”

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