Sept. 5, 2019 by David Flores

Hurricane Dorian May Brush Virginia, Bringing Danger of Toxic Floodwaters

In August, Virginians remembered the devastation wrought by Hurricane Camille 50 years earlier. After making landfall on the Gulf Coast, that storm dumped dozens of inches of rain in western portions of the Commonwealth and killed more than 150 people in flash floods and landslides. Today, Virginians along the Atlantic coast and in the Hampton Roads region have Hurricane Dorian on their minds, with potentially life-threatening flooding, property destruction, and toxic floodwaters being serious hazards.

The National Weather Service is now predicting that Dorian could bring storm surge flooding of two to four feet to Hampton Roads by Friday afternoon. Heavy precipitation could also exacerbate storm surge with urban and river flooding.

Over the next several days, residents of Hampton Roads and government officials should also be cautious about the risk of floodwaters contaminated by wastewater and debris and, especially, the threat of flood-induced chemical disaster. Based on our recent analysis, the communities most socially vulnerable to disaster in the Hampton Roads contain at least 150 – but possibly more than 400 – hazardous chemical facilities that could be exposed to storm surge flooding from Category 1 and Category 2 hurricanes. If and when these facilities are flooded, their operators and regulators …

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Sept. 5, 2019

Hurricane Dorian May Brush Virginia, Bringing Danger of Toxic Floodwaters