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Florence may bring heavy rain, flooding to our region

A car splashes through standing water on the submarine bridge at Chapmans Landing along the Shenandoah River south of Woodstock on Monday. Rich Cooley/Daily

Residents should hope for the best but prepare for the worst as Hurricane Florence approaches the United States. That is the advice of area law enforcement.

Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Capt. Wesley Dellinger said Monday that a lot of waterways and streams are already at their limit.

“They will continue to go up as rain falls,” he said. “Low-lying areas and smaller low water bridges, the public can expect will be the first to flood.”

There were about 20 secondary roads reported closed in the region around 11 a.m. Monday from the weekend rains, said Ken Slack, spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transporation.

A dozen of those were in Frederick County, and six were in Shenandoah County.

“Already saturated ground and a hurricane on the way is not a good situation,” Slack said.

The National Weather Service is forecasting warmer temperatures for Tuesday and Wednesday, with clouds and the possibility of scattered showers on Wednesday. Afternoon showers and thunderstorms could arrive on Thursday, said Kyle Pallozzi, a meteorologist at the Sterling office.

Projections for Hurricane Florence will continue to change during the week, but models on Monday indicated that the hurricane could hit North Carolina on Thursday night or Friday morning.

“As it moves inland, it will slow down, and it may stall with heavy rainfall occurring,” Pallozzi said.

Where it will stall is not known. The Weather Service is, however, forecasting the potential for heavy rainfall for the area, Pallozzi said.

“We will have a better idea with each passing day,” he added.

Dellinger and Slack both stressed that motorists should not drive into any water on a roadway or bridge, explaining it will only take an inch or two of the fast-running water to carry a vehicle away.

“Don’t drown, turn around,” Dellinger said.

They also advised motorists to watch out for downed trees over the roadway, especially at curves and bends in the road where they may appear suddenly.

Dellinger said he already had scheduled additional deputies to work starting Friday and into the weekend. They will be coordinating with county fire and rescue crews.

Frederick County Sheriff Lenny Millholland stated by email his office is prepared.

Slack said VDOT crews would get signage up as soon as they can when roads are flooded and closed.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office is monitoring the situation. Sheriff Daniel McEathron noted in an email:  “Currently my office is not experiencing any issue at this time, and as always in cases like this we will monitor the roads, and low lying areas with patrol units and address needs as they arise. This is nothing unusual for this time of the year.”

Dellinger advised people to start preparing for the storm by making sure vehicles are full of gas, their home has needed batteries for lights, food is stocked, and cellphones are charged. He also advised that now is the time for homeowners to walk their property and bring inside or store in a shed anything that could blow away, including trash cans. Dellinger also advised checking on neighbors.

First responders are not the only ones already planning ahead.

Schools have started to reschedule football games that were set for Friday due to the weather.

Sherando High School will play its football game at Loudoun Valley High School at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Skyline High School will host Handley High School in Winchester for its matchup at 7 p.m. Thursday.

If Skyline’s field is too wet to play on, the game will be moved to Handley at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. A decision on that will be made at a later time.

Strasburg High School will play its game at Rappahannock High School at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Northern Virginia Daily sports writer Tommy Keeler contributed to this story.

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