More than one hundred and fifty residents evacuated Thursday night as Cameron Run flooded into the streets and basements of lower Huntington.
The stream reached a height of 15 ft before it subsided, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Fairfax County Fire & Rescue assisted in evacuating residents from four streets in Huntington—Fenwick Drive, Arlington Terrace, Mount Vernon Drive and Liberty Drive—shortly before 7 p.m. First responders removed some residents from their homes by boat after water rose at a faster rate than initially anticipated. No injuries attributed to the Huntington evacuation have been reported.
In addition to spilling into the west end of Arlington Terrace and turning the infield of the baseball diamond at Huntington Park into a swimming pool, severe flooding edged its way up Fenwick Drive to the last house on the block before Huntington Avenue. Heidi Parker and German Butron share that duplex.
According to Parker, the duplex was the only house on Fenwick the county crews didn't order a mandatory evacuation of.
Both residents quickly moved belongings up from the basement into the main floor of their home, but they chose not to evacuate. In the end the water reached the bottom step of Parker's walk but went no further.
Parker moved into her home in 2004, and Butron has lived in the neighborhood since the 1980s. Both compared Thursday's flooding to that in 2006.
"We had a lot of sewer water [last time]," Parker said. "I had about two feet of sewer water that came into the basement."
Both residents said they felt more prepared this time around. In 2006, the water came faster, Butron said.
This time "we knew what had to do," Butron said.
"We raced really fast to get everything out of the basement," Parker said. "As we were bringing stuff up, you could hear the sewer bubbling up."
"And other people didn't get that chance down there," Parker said, looking down Fenwick Drive.
By 10 p.m., the Cameron Run had receded back significantly, leaving only a small pond of standing water at the bottom of Fenwick Drive. But debris and muck littered streets and yards all around the neighborhood.
Displaced Residents Stay With Friends, Family
Despite nearly 200 residents evacuated, only two families remained at the county's reception shelter at Lee RECenter, according to Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland.
The RECenter will not be turned into an evacuation shelter because the need isn't there, Hyland said.
"If they need to be sheltered the Red Cross and our family services people will just find a place for them," he said. "Everyone has sort of taken care of the problem themselves gone up with friends and relatives."
Residents Gabe Goodin and Christina Mahoney evacuated their Arlington Terrace home and headed to dinner at To Be Thai further down Huntington Avenue. They will be going to stay with a friend in Alexandria's West End where they've been promised dry ground. They plan to check things out tomorrow morning before heading to work.
The county must inspect each flooded home before residents can move back in. The Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) will begin inspecting homes Friday at 8 a.m. Residents can call the DPWES at 703-324-1930 or 703-324-1940.
While those with minor house flooding could be able to move in Friday or over the weekend, Hyland said those residents with damage to their utilities may not be able to move back for a week.
Fairfax County and the Mount Vernon district will set up a local office to facilitate the permitting process. Those needing contractors for work to repair utilities will be available through the county if needed.
"I’m heartsick about these people once again having to leave their homes. We need a flood control project here so badly, but it’s very expensive," Hyland said. "We just need to find a way to find the money to do it. People are entitled to that."