Chance of minor flooding in downtown Franklin increases

Published 11:26 am Monday, August 29, 2011

A portion of Drake Rd. in Franklin washed away by flooding water.

FRANKLIN—Monty Hackette, owner of MC’s Car Wash on East Second Avenue in Franklin, is not taking any chances with the possibility of flooding from Hurricane Irene on the Blackwater River by Wednesday.

“I’m going to take precautions,” Hackette said Monday morning. “We’ve been told (by city officials) to keep an eye on it.”

He was relocating his pressure washers, generators and vacuum cleaners because his automotive detailing business could be impacted by flooding. Hackette learned his lesson with flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and in 2006, the last time flood waters were an issue for downtown businesses.

“I am taking every precaution available,” he said.

The Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service shows a crest of the Blackwater River at Burdette at 18.6 feet Wednesday. The river crested at 26.4 feet when Floyd flooded the downtown 12 years ago.

Saturday’s hurricane dumped 12 inches of rain on Western Tidewater, according to the National Weather Service.

Sunday’s prediction was 18.1 feet, but the impact at 18.6 feet should be about the same as officials were expecting, said Dan Howe, executive director of Downtown Franklin Association.

“Any building below a base floor elevation of 15 feet should take precautions,” Howe said. “I’m personally going to visit the businesses that could be affected.”

He said four businesses in the low-lying areas of downtown have the potential to be impacted. They include a portion of Franklin Street, the north end of Main Street and the east end of Second Avenue. The city’s sewer treatment plant could also be impacted.

The impact is expected to be minimal, with water possibly only reaching the foundations of the affected buildings and maybe resulting in a few inches of water inside, Howe said.

“Even if your building isn’t going to flood, prepare and get any electronics off the floor, or out of the building,” Howe said.

That’s exactly what Elbert Brown, a partner in Blackwater Appraisals, did Sunday.

“We operate in paper and electronics,” Sutton said. “We’ve had smoke, an earthquake and now this. We’re going to be proactive.”

The Nottoway River at Sebrell is also expected to crest at a moderate flood stage of 18.6 feet, according to projections.

An impact on Southampton County communities is not expected, but water could cover parts of Carys Bridge Road and Indian Town Road, said Mike Johnson, Southampton County’s emergency management director.

The Blackwater is currently barely above its flood stage at 12.04 feet at Burdette. The Nottoway is almost a foot below its flood stage at 15.04 feet.