VA uncovers more damage

Tropical Storm Gaston destroyed or severely damaged dozens of homes across central Virginia this week.

BY HEATHER MOYER | RICHMOND | September 1, 2004

Tropical Storm Gaston destroyed or severely damaged dozens of homes across central Virginia this week, according to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), and that number is expected to increase as assessments continue.

Flash flooding caused by the remnants of Gaston also killed five people in Richmond. Four people were still missing by Wednesday morning.

Downtown Richmond was ravaged by the floodwaters from the heavy Monday afternoon rains. Flash flooding stranded hundreds of motorists and swept away numerous cars. The fast-flowing floodwaters also severely damaged many roads in the area.

"There's mud everywhere," said Dawn Eischen, public affairs spokesperson for VDEM. "Cars are strewn about the roads and debris is everywhere. We have no idea how long it will take to clean it all up."

Three shelters were still open in the Richmond area on Wednesday, and Eischen said some 300 people are staying in them. She said those numbers point to significant residential damage, but assessments are continuing. "We're trying to see if there is enough damage for a federal declaration," said Eischen.

The National Weather Service confirms that ten F-0 tornadoes were on the ground in Virginia during the storm: two touched down in James City County, one in Nottoway County, two in York County, one in Poquoson, one in New Kent County, one in Hampton, one in Dinwiddie County and one that impacted Hopewell and Chesterfield County.

In Chesterfield County Tuesday, officials evacuated over 1,000 residents near the Falling Creek Dam as the rising creek topped the dam by two feet. The mandatory evacuation was being lifted on Wednesday as homes are inspected for safety and the dam has been stabilized.

Gaston made landfall in South Carolina on Sunday morning.

The small South Carolina community of McClellanville - brushed by the remnants of Hurricane Charley earlier this month - bore the brunt of Tropical Storm Gaston on Sunday as the storm made landfall with near-hurricane force winds of 70 mph.

As much as 10 inches of rain had fallen in some areas by Sunday afternoon. Hundreds of residents evacuated before the storm, most of them in Charleston and Georgetown counties.

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