Remembering the 2016 Alleghany County flood this Flood Awareness Week

Our corner of the Commonwealth is no stranger to the risks from rising and rushing water

The weather disaster that's the most common and costly risk to life and property is flooding.

ALLEGHANY COUNTY, Va. – It’s the third annual Flood Awareness Week in Virginia and our corner of the Commonwealth is no stranger to the risks from rising and rushing water.

“Virginia has diverse terrain and flooding impacts all parts of the state in variable ways,” Angela Davis said. She’s the Floodplain Program Planner with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

One of the most significant recent floods in our area happened in June 2016, when the western part of Alleghany County received eight to ten inches of rain in a 12-hour period.

“It was a deluge of water that came into Alleghany County and the water levels jumped very fast,” Alleghany County Director of Public Safety Ryan Muterspaugh said.

We met Muterspaugh at Humpback Bridge, which runs over Dunlap Creek in western Alleghany County, last month and he painted the picture of what he saw that day with his words.

“In the area we’re standing right now, it came up to almost the bottom of the bridge. It crested right at 18 feet, which is almost double flood stage,” Muterspaugh said.

Mitigation efforts like streambank restoration and acquisition of flood-prone properties could help with future floods, but residents should also be ready for the next one.

“We tell people to be prepared, have a plan, have supplies and know what you’re gonna do ahead of time so you’re not scrambling at the last minute,” Muterspaugh said.

One of the best ways you can fight the impacts of flooding is with insurance. Unfortunately, Davis says only 3% of Virginians have it.

“We are brainstorming ways and working with external partners and stakeholders in addressing that very issue,” Davis said.

She went on to say that floods will likely occur more frequently and grow in intensity in the coming years due to climate change, so it’s important to know your risk, protect your property and get flood insurance now.

As part of this initiative, there will be a virtual roundtable discussion Thursday that you’re invited to listen in on. It’s called “The Impacts of Place, Space, Climate Change and Race” and you can register here.

About the Author:

Justin McKee presents the weather forecast on 10 News Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6 to 8 a.m. He also fills in for other meteorologists during the week.