Tysons, VA

Updated at 1:35 p.m. — The NWS issued a Flood Warning for areas in central Fairfax County, including Merrifield, Tysons Vienna. The warning is set to last until 7 p.m. 

“Doppler radar and automated rain gauges indicated that moderate to heavy rain was falling over the area. The heavy rain will cause flooding,” according to NWS. “Up to 1 inch of rain has already fallen. Additional rainfall amounts of around an inch are possible.”

Earlier: A Flood Watch will be in effect in Fairfax County for today (Thursday), starting at 10 a.m.

The National Weather Service says that heavy rain is expected this afternoon, followed by a “strong cold front” in the early evening.

“Widespread rainfall totals of 1.5-2.5 inches are expected with locally higher amounts of three inches or more possible,” according to NWS. The rain may likely cause small streams and the primary downstream areas of rivers to flood, along with possible, moderate river flooding.

NWS suggests that people who live near flood zones prepare for flooding.

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Flood Warning, Wind Advisory in Effect — The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Warning for small streams in central Fairfax County that is in effect until 9:30 a.m. A Wind Advisory is in effect until 6 p.m. [National Weather Service]

McLean Assisted Living Resident, Employees Have COVID-19 — “An Arleigh Burke Pavilion Assisted Living resident at McLean’s Vinson Hall Retirement Community tested positive for the new coronavirus, which causes COVID-19 illness, the community announced Saturday. Three employees also tested positive, and an additional employee is under investigation as a potential case.” [Patch]

Governor Signs New Election Laws — “New laws signed by Gov. Ralph Northam over the weekend will end Virginia’s voter ID law, make Election Day a state holiday and allow no-excuse absentee voting.” [Inside NoVa]

Merrifield Apartment Fire — On Saturday, Fairfax County firefighters extinguished a fire reportedly in the laundry room of an apartment in the 2700 block of Keystone Lane. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue/Twitter]

Local Daycare Face COVID-19 Challenges — “The state’s new rules for in-home daycare put both parents and providers in a bind, but some local in-home providers are striving to work within the guidelines and stay in business.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for Fairfax County and surrounding areas starting tomorrow afternoon.

The watch will be in effect from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning.

More from NWS:

* Multiple rounds of rainfall will occur through early Friday. The heaviest rainfall potential will begin Thursday afternoon and continue into Thursday night. Storm total rainfall amounts through Friday morning are expected to range between 2 and 3 inches.

* Flooding of poor drainage and low lying areas will be possible, and some smaller streams and rivers may exceed their banks.

People are urged to monitor weather forecasts.

Residents in the City of Falls Church can get up to 20 sandbags per household, according to an email from the city.

The city’s Department of Public Works is providing the sandbags, which will be available on a first-come, first-served at the Property Yard A (between 215 and 217 Gordon Road) on Thursday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“City staff will help with loading bags into a vehicle, but they will not be responsible for vehicle damage,” the email said. “Sandbags must be returned to the distribution site after the storm.”

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The City of Falls Church is moving ahead on several efforts to address flooding issues.

City Manager Wyatt Shields told the City Council on Tuesday (Nov. 12) that 16 people have applied for the stormwater task force that the council approved back in October.

“We have had a very strong response to that,” Shields said about the advertisement for the task force, which can have up to seven members.

The deadline to apply is this Friday (Nov. 15), Shields said.

“We are looking for geographical diversity on this panel and the ability to have a city-wide perspective,” Shields said.

In response to residents’ comments that the task force should include sanitary sewer, Shields said that the rationale for not including that is because it is a different engineering problem, skillset and solution.

“To keep this work focused on stormwater was by decision,” Shields said.

When the task force is ready, Shields said that there will be an organizational meeting about the scope of the group.

Shields also pointed out some “big improvements” recently with stormwater management, including work on the washed-out flood wall at Tripps Run.

He added that work is underway to add water-tight man-hole covers in areas where water pools in the streets.

The city may also implement a program — similar to the one in Alexandria — to help homeowners considering a backflow device in their homes, Shields said.

“That would be a targetted program for areas where we have documented backflow where we can provide that assistance,” Shields said.

The program would need approval from the City Council, Shields said.

“That’s not the solution, but it does provide some additional resilience for homeowners,” Shields said, adding that he hopes the program will be available by the end of the calendar

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In an ongoing effort to address flooding issues in the city, the Falls Church City Council approved a stormwater task force earlier this week.

The task force will work with city staff to update the list of priority projects for stormwater improvements in the Watershed Management Plan — sanitary backflows are not in the task force’s scope of work, according to the resolution.

More from the resolution:

What is envisioned with this task force is a rigorous, yet transparent set of criteria that will be used to grade projects. The mindset of the members of the task force must be to help the City as a whole grapple with the problems of flooding. The end result should be a ranking of projects in order of the most cost effective stormwater improvements that will protect the most people.

The task force will report to the City Council, City Manager Wyatt Shields said at the meeting on City Council meeting on Monday (Oct. 28).

Staff recommends that the task force consists of up to seven members, saying in the resolution that a larger size might make scheduling and attending meetings more difficult.

“There could be a liaison but we were not envisioning a city councilmember [on the task force],” Shields said.

Mayer David Tarter suggested that the task force include at-large members to prevent “regionalism” on the taskforce.

“I suspect that having people from each of the districts is probably a good idea,” Mayor David Tarter said. “If someone’s not represented, then they may feel like their interests aren’t being represented.”

The task force’s members are set to be determined before the end of the year.

“The idea is for the deadline for applications to be in mid-November so that we can get them to the Appointments Committee and then to City Council,” Shields said, adding that the goal is to get the appointments finalized by December.

The council voted 6-0 to approve the task force on Monday.

The task force is expected to end on July 1, unless extended by the City Council.

“There will be open meetings. Hopefully, a lot of the public will come to them so they can see the decision-making process,” Shields said.

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Design work is set to start at the end of the year to look for ways to reduce flooding in a McLean neighborhood.

The Tucker Avenue Neighborhood Stormwater project aims to reduce flooding and erosion, while improving stormwater drainage.

The area was reportedly damaged from severe flooding in July, along with several spots in McLean.

The project, which is located in the Pimmit Run Watershed, will look at the current drainage and stormwater infrastructure in the neighborhood and within a 67-acre drainage area that leads to Pimmit Run. The project is divided into three areas.

“All three areas have inadequate drainage systems that result in street, yard and/or house flooding during certain storm events,” according to Fairfax County. “Additionally, portions of lower Tucker Avenue are in a FEMA floodplain along Pimmit Run that creates further drainage problems.”

Fairfax County has teamed up with the Virginia Department of Transportation on the project, according to the county.

“A concept design is currently scheduled for late December or early January,” Dranseville District Supervisor John Foust said in an email.

So far, Foust was able to share that the project will upgrade the conveyance system and propose a new stormwater management system.

Foust has said that this is one of several projects meant to address flooding issues in McLean.

“Coordination with homeowners including [the] acquisition of additional storm drainage easements will be required prior to final design and construction,” according to Fairfax County.

Construction costs are expected to total $3.7 million and will be funded through Fairfax County’s Stormwater Service District fee.

New systems will be installed along VDOT’s right of way based on the neighborhood drainage pattern, Foust said.

Map via Google Maps

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The City of Falls Church is planning to replace Oak Street Bridge after it was damaged from flooding in July.

Located at South Oak Street, the bridge runs over Tripps Run. The proposed plans would replace the bridge — which was flagged as being in poor condition before the flooding — with a new steel span bridge that will connect people to Howard E. Herman Stream Valley Park.

“Although the surface of this bridge was damaged during the July 8 floods, this long-term project was already pending,” according to a press release from the city.

More from the city:

In 2012, Dewberry inspectors found the bridge to be in poor condition with a bridge rating of four out of 10. There is severe corrosion in the steel beam webs. Timber blocking was installed at locations where steel beam webs were severely corroded. Concrete deck has spalling and numerous hairline cracks with some exposed rebar.

The bridge has been on a yearly inspection cycle since 2012. The rating has not changed and there have been no major changes from the 2012 condition. Each annual inspection recommends replacing or repairing the steel beams and concrete deck immediately.

The project’s estimated cost is $2.6 million and is partially funded by Regional Surface Transportation Program funds, the press release said. City officials are looking for additional grant funding.

The city’s Planning Commission is scheduled to discuss the conceptual design for the replacement bridge with the consultants and design team from Kimley-Horn on Monday, Oct. 21, at 7:30 p.m.

City officials will discuss the project timeline at the meeting.

The city will allow public input on the project until Nov. 6.

Image via City of Falls Church

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Falls Church residents may have noticed that work has started on several projects to minimize flooding damage and better manage stormwater.

City Manager Wyatt Shields gave the City Council an update on stormwater management projects at Monday (Sept. 23) night’s meeting.

Smaller ones, like drainage issues between Laura and Poplar drives and flooding issues at 913 and 915 blocks of Lincoln Avenue, will be handled in-house and paid for by the current stormwater operating budget, he said.

Residents can expect work to finish on those by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the city has reached out to GKY about five larger watersheds, including:

  • the area by W. Columbia Street and Shadow Walk
  • the Hillwood Avenue area
  • the Sherrow Avenue area
  • E. Columbia Street and Harrison Branch Tributary
  • Ellison Branch Stream near new homes on Lincoln Avenue

“Ultimately, we will get the options and get the costs and we will need to work together to prioritize our resources for where they can do the most good for the buck,” Shields said.

The timeframe will be determined during budget discussions in the winter, and work won’t begin on those larger projects until July, he said.

“People have been seeing us out in the field doing the initial walkthroughs with the engineers,” he said, adding that city staff is waiting to get a cost estimate from GKY before alerting the residents.

“It sounds like we’re making a lot of progress, I think if we can communicate better to those residents and let them know that work is happening, that would be very reassuring to people,” Councilmember Letty Hardi said.

The city has also been working to update its stormwater management plan after suffering severe damage from major flash flooding in July.

Shields also said that the wing wall on Tripps Run has been completed, eliminating a flooding risk to residents on Sherrow Avenue.

“It’s good to get that resolved,” he said.

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Work to repair one of two flood-damaged McLean roads is taking longer than originally expected.

The 1300 block of Kirby Road and Swinks Mill Road by Scott’s Run are still closed due to severe storm damage from July 8 flash flooding. The Virginia Department of Transporation (VDOT) has said that both roads will stay closed for several months.

In an update yesterday (Thursday), VDOT said that work on Kirby Road is slated to be finished in mid-December instead of late November.

“The road is expected to safely reopen to through traffic in mid-December, and final asphalt and lane striping will continue through May 2020,” VDOT said in an update yesterday (Thursday).

“Martins Construction Corporation has been awarded a $2.1 million emergency contract for repairs, and work is anticipated to begin the week of Sept. 23,” VDOT said.

Meanwhile, work on Swinks Mill Road is expected to be done by the end of this month, VDOT said, adding that crews are currently working on reconstructing the bridge deck and making sub-structure repairs.

VDOT also provided information on the progress this week for both roads:

Swinks Mill Road at Scotts Run

In the last month, crews have:

  • Excavated and poured concrete working surfaces on the downstream side on which the footers will be built
  • Installed rebar and poured two footers on the downstream side
  • Installed rebar and support for the stem wall on the downstream right-side abutment
  • Partially installed rebar for stem wall on the downstream left-side abutment

Kirby Road at Pimmit Run 

Martins Construction Corporation’s work includes:

  • Relocation of Little Pimmit Run to its previous stream alignment in compliance with federal/state permitting agencies
  • Rebuilding the washed-out section of Kirby Road with concrete and rip rap
  • Replacement of a more than 50-year-old, 24-inch sanitary sewer line
  • Reconstruction of the bridge over Pimmit Run with work on the abutments, wing walls, parapets, bridge deck and approaches

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust wrote in an email to constituents yesterday that he is working with other elected officials to set up a community meeting “to provide residents with an opportunity to learn more about these emergency repairs and ask questions.”

Photo courtesy VDOT

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Starting today, residents and business owners can head to the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library to seek low-interest loans to help pay for flood damage repairs.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust shared in a newsletter to constituents Monday (Aug. 12) information about two loan centers — Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library (7584 Leesburg Pike) and the Arlington County Trades Center (2700 S. Taylor Street).

Gov. Ralph Northam announced last Thursday (Aug. 8) that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will offer low-interest federal loans to people affected by the July 8 flooding in the City of Falls Church, along with Fairfax and Arlington counties and the City of Alexandria.

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million, while homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 for damaged or destroyed real estate and up to $40,000 for personal property.

“In addition, the County has waived any permit fees that might apply to reconstruction efforts,” Foust wrote.

More from the newsletter:

The SBA may increase loans by up to 20 percent if officials verify the extent of physical damages. Agency officials also may support efforts by applicants to build storm shelters or safe rooms to protect against damage from a similar natural disaster in the future.

SBA officials will set the loans’ terms and amounts based on applicants’ financial conditions. The agency will offer loans with terms of up to 30 years and interest rates as low as 1.938 percent for renters and homeowners, 2.75 percent for non-profits, and 4 percent for businesses.

The loan center at the Tysons-Pimmit library will be open:

  • Tuesday-Thursday, Aug. 13-15: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 16: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 17: 1-5 p.m.
  • Monday, Aug. 19: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

The loan center in Arlington will be open the same days and times, except for different hours on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Both centers will be closed on Sunday, Aug. 18.

“SBA officials will be available to answer questions about the agency’s disaster-loan programs and help applicants fill out the necessary forms,” Foust wrote in the newsletter.

Residents have until Oct. 7 to request a loan to cover physical property damage, while businesses have until May 7, 2020, to request a loan for economic injury.

Photo via Fairfax County

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