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Cleanup efforts underway after night of flash flooding in downtown Roanoke

‘It was up to my knees almost,’ one resident recalled

Cleanup efforts underway after flash flooding in downtown Roanoke (WSLS 10)

ROANOKE, Va.Thursday night’s floodwaters may have washed away, but the damage remains.

Spencer Winningham, who lives in downtown Roanoke, spent Friday morning scooping water out of his car, which he parked on Salem Avenue.

“The backseats were all flooded about a couple inches and I had to start scooping it out with a cup,” said Winningham. “I’ve been doing that for an hour.”

The skies opened dropping two to three inches of rain on Roanoke. By the time Winningham realized what was happening, it was too late to move his car.

”I just looked out my window because it was raining pretty bad and I see the whole corner, block flooded,” said Winningham. “It was up to my knees almost.”

Downtown, Campbell Avenue was underwater, creeping towards Three Notch’d.

“The waters came all the way up to the door and all the way up over the patio. The market flooded pretty bad,” said Three Notch’d General Manager Emily Laney. “It was wild. It was definitely wild for a minute watching the rain come down and seeing it rise so very quickly.”

Laney said they closed an hour early to keep customers and staff safe.

“They fought off the flood here at the front door with towels and squeegees,” said Laney.

Roanoke City’s Stormwater Manager Ian Shaw says it was a 25-year event.

However, similar flooding happened Monday downtown and in November 2020.

Shaw said the city has capital improvement funding to upgrade the stormwater system by removing a bottleneck near Salem Avenue and 1st Street SW and diverting water along Shenandoah Avenue.

“The catch with that is you can reduce flooding but you can’t necessarily totally eliminate flooding, but we certainly want to do what we can to minimize the impacts of flooding in our downtown,” said Shaw.

Back on Salem Avenue, Winningham’s drying out from the downpour.

“The plan for the rest of the day is to figure out what’s wrong with my car,” said Winningham. “Hopefully it’s not broken and I can drive.”


About the Author:

Lindsey joined the WSLS 10 team as a reporter in February 2019 and is thrilled to call Roanoke her new home!