Gearing Up for Ernesto's Rains

By: Philip Stewart
By: Philip Stewart
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August 31, 2006

Throughout Charlottesville and Albemarle County, local officials and emergency response teams listened very closely to weather reports.

They're more than aware that the rain will be one of the biggest weather events of the year.

"[We're] making sure all our equipment is working. Saws, putting on extra plastic, extra nail guns," said Linda Johnson, and EMT Administrator.

"We're checking chain saws, knuckle boom trucks in case we have some trees down, barricades with lights, that sort of thing," explained Steve Lawson, a Department of Public Works manager.

It was a lot of supplies for just the remnants of tropical storm, but it was the uncertainty of exactly how much rain the area will get that put some communities on edge.

"When you have a range of between five to ten inches, the low end is pretty manageable," said Lee Catlin, a spokesperson for Albemarle County. "The high end is pretty frightening."

Scottsville is no stranger to flooding, but the community was also very well prepared. There they have a levee system near Mint Creek and the James River. Authorities said it would most definitely be in use over the next few days.

"The pumps will be running and as long as its raining they'll continue to run," said Tim Cersley, the fire chief of the Scottsville Fire Department.

The Charlottesville-Albemarle Water Rescue Team were also checking items off of their supply list Thursday night. Three boats and a handful of rescue vehicles are already ready to go.

They cautioned local residents about the rain, and especially warned drivers.

"Anywhere there's been a low-water crossing and people do not head the warnings of not going into the water--they figure it's only a couple inches [and] they can drive through it. They get into it, it's a lot more water [than they though], they stall and it becomes a problem. We also have more common areas where draining is a challenge, so we know where those locations are throughout the county and the city."

Storm drains throughout the city and county were being cleared in preparation as well.

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