Roanoke Fire and EMS remembers flooding from Tropical Storm Michael one year ago

Portions of Roanoke Valley were under water

ROANOKE, Va. – First making landfall as a hurricane on the Florida Panhandle, Michael was a tropical storm by the time it reached southwest Virginia.

And its impact showed no mercy in the Roanoke area.

Capt. Brian Conner, with Roanoke City Fire and EMS, was working as a battalion chief that day.

"It had been raining for a few days, I believe off, and on. The ground is very saturated. In the morning, it started raining and, as the day went on, the rain intensified," said Conner. 

But that wasn't the end. Conner said, by that afternoon, calls started coming in for flooding and people stranded in cars and in the roads.

"There was some flooding downtown but the most severe flooding was around Tanglewood Mall and (U.S.) 220. We had multiple people trapped in multiple vehicles," said Conner. 

One man in Roanoke County clung to a tree to prevent being swept away.

"My friend was going in, and I was trying to go in and get him. The water came up. I swammed a little bit and grabbed onto a tree until the help came." 

This was the scene at Riverwalk Apartments off Route 419 in Salem, where some tenants were evacuated and rescued as water filled their apartments.

The leasing office said deposits were given back to residents who decided to find another place to live. But most tenants decided to return. 

Thankfully, no one in the Roanoke Valley died as a result of the storm.

"Due to our regional cooperation and regional training, we all worked together and basically came together as one big team that day," said Conner.

The Roanoke E-911 Center gave us this information about how many calls it received that day: 

Breakdown of 911 calls by type on October 11 and 12, 2018

  • Reported flooding - 6
  • Water Rescues - 21
  • Burglar Alarms - 15
  • Disabled Vehicles/Traffic issues - 119
  • Reported Fires  -1
  • Fire Alarms - 5
  • Motor Vehicle Crash- 18
  • Barricade Requests- 56
  • Tree Crew Requests - 6
  • Wires Down- 8
  • Signal Issues- 2

Total Incidents    778

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