Hurricane Sandy leaves little impact on Western Tidewater

Published 12:03 pm Monday, October 29, 2012


FRANKLIN—The prediction of an intensifying storm caused by Hurricane Sandy was a major factor for closing Franklin City Public Schools on Monday, said Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle on Monday morning.

Franklin wasn’t alone; all schools and government offices in Western Tidewater were closed today due to the hurricane. Virginia Dominion Power and Community Electric reported no outages in Southampton and Isle of Wight counties. The rain is not expected to cause any flooding of the Blackwater River in Franklin. Rainfall amounts were not available.

Before making the decision to close school, Belle spoke with superintendents in the region and looked at what Isle of Wight, Southampton and Suffolk public schools were doing.

She was concerned for students’ safety and whether or not faculty and staff who live outside the area could get to work.

As of 11 a.m. Monday, a decision has not yet been made for Tuesday.

However, that choice will likely be made later today.

Don Robertson, spokesman for Isle of Wight County, believes it was a good decision to close schools on Monday.

“I cannot speak for the schools, but they made the appropriate decision based on the information presented to them at that time,” Robertson said. “This is an evolving weather event, and we all would rather make an error on the side of caution than to place children or citizens in harm’s way.”

The county had water on Burdette Road at the Isle of Wight and Southampton border.

Franklin City Fire Chief Vince Holt said based on reports from the National Weather Service, there is not really any projected flooding from the Blackwater River.

“Nothing more than what we were expecting,” he said. “It’s more coastal flooding events.”

As of 9:45 a.m. Monday, Holt said the Blackwater was at 7.06 feet.

“Plenty of room for water to handle runoff. The flood stage is 12 feet, which is when the river starts leaving its banks. Low-lying areas would be impacted.”

He added that the river would need to get to 20 feet before affecting the downtown, such as what happened with Hurricane Floyd in September 1999. That’s when the river rose 26.27 feet, said Holt.

“The National Weather Service also said the last 60 days have been relatively dry, so there’s room in the swamps and ground for water to be absorbed,” he said. “That’s helping out. We don’t really expect to see any major impacts.”

For Franklin, the National Weather Service calls for rain through Monday afternoon with high in the low 50s. Wind speeds could range from 23 to 26 mph, with gusts up to 40 mph. New rain amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch are possible.

More rain is likely tonight with wind speeds 25 to 28 mph and gusts up to 55 mph. New rain between a quarter to half of an inch possible. Chance of rain through Tuesday remains at 60 percent, with partly sunny skies by Wednesday.