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Thunderstorm damage causes travel delays as power outages linger in Falls Church

(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Over 8,000 people in Fairfax County still don’t have electricity this evening (Wednesday) as crews work to restore power and clear downed trees, the aftermath of last night’s thunderstorm.

Commuters were experiencing delays as part of Leesburg Pike that’s requiring detours. Emergency responders shut down the roadway between George C. Marshall and Dominion drives in Falls Church due to downed trees and power lines there.

Police told Tysons Reporter around 4:30 p.m. that the road remains closed in both directions and that power crews are attempting to clear the roadway and restore power, which could be completed in 10-12 hours.

“Follow detour signs in the area and please drive with caution,” Fairfax County Police Department said on Twitter.

The Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library was closed due to the ongoing power outage resulting from fallen trees and downed power lines on Route 7, which remains closed for about a quarter-mile from the I-495 interchange.

A Fairfax County Public Library spokesperson confirmed the Tysons-Pimmit closure to Tysons Reporter and added that the Kingstowne and Sherwood Regional branches were also shut down at 11 a.m. due to a lack of power.

Metrobus warned of possible delays as it rerouted buses going in both directions on Route 28A due to the scene.

Metro’s Orange Line has also been experiencing numerous delays late last night and into this morning.

While power was restored to the West Falls Church station around 9:45 p.m. yesterday after a storm-related outage, service was suspended again an hour later between Vienna and East Falls Church in response to “an unauthorized person” on the train tracks at West Falls Church.

Lingering power issues outside Dunn Loring then contributed to delays as far as New Carrollton in Maryland; starting around 5 a.m., Metrorail reported that normal service on the Orange Line had resumed about an hour later, but by 7 a.m., a disabled train at Dunn Loring triggered more delays, this time in Vienna.

Metrorail said at 7:45 a.m. to expect delays in both directions on the Orange Line due to the “train malfunction” at Dunn Loring.

While electricity has been restored for many of the 50,000-plus Fairfax County residents who lost power last night, thousands of Dominion Energy customers are still without power, primarily in the Merrifield and Falls Church area.

Many businesses in the Pimmit and Falls Church areas put up signs indicating that they are closed due to the power outages, including the Whole Foods, Capital One Bank, Orangetheory Fitness, and My Eye Doctor in Idylwood Plaza.

At Tysons Station plaza, store after store posted closed signs. The sign for Java Loco Coffee said it expected to be closed for the day. Trader Joe’s used two freezer trucks in the rear of the plaza to store meats and food beginning last night when the store’s power went out, an employee said. Also in the rear of the plaza, Tyson’s Barber regained power around 11 a.m., a worker said Wednesday with a sigh of relief.

Behind Tysons Station plaza, a detached Seven-11 was closed, but a Sunoco gas station had its pumps working as well as electricity. Across from Tysons Station, an Exxon had no pumps working, and an employee operated the store in the dark for cash-paying customers and regulars.

According to the utility company’s outage map, Dominion expects power to be restored between 7 p.m. today and midnight, mirroring similar restoration estimates for nearby areas.

Meanwhile, a heat advisory will be in effect today from noon until 8 p.m., and an excessive heat watch, where dangerously hot conditions are possible, will be in effect for tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon and evening.

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is reminding people to use air conditioning, avoid direct sunlight, choose appropriate clothing, hydrate, and follow other safety tips.

The Falls Church Community Center has been turned into a cooling center until 8 p.m., the City of Falls Church announced this morning. Face coverings and social distancing are required for all, and visitors must sign a COVID-19 waiver.

The city also shared information about how to handle fallen trees and suggested reporting downed power lines to the police department at 703-241-5053.

“Community members should play it safe in the aftermath of last night’s storm that left many without power today as well as downed trees and branches,” the city said in its news release.

Falls Church City residents may see a delay in trash and recycling collections today. Bins that are not collected by 4 p.m. can be reported to the city’s Solid Waste Hotline 703-248-5160, option 1.

Severe thunderstorms and flash floods are possible during afternoon and evening hours from today through Saturday.

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