Rescue crews rushed out to northern Albemarle County during the heavy rains Tuesday night after rising floodwaters trapped a vehicle and threatened the lives of its two occupants.
Career and volunteer fire crews as well as Albemarle County police officers were dispatched around 6:27 p.m. to Watts Passage near Preddy Creek north of Charlottesville.
“A vehicle with two passengers got stuck on a flooded roadway,” Albemarle County Fire Rescue said in a statement later in the night. “When water began to flood into the vehicle, they climbed onto the car’s roof. The individuals were swept off the vehicle and into the water.”
The rescue crews reported they found the pair holding on to small branches to stay above the waterline. The crews were able to extract them and see them safely transported to University of Virginia Medical Center for treatment.
Less than an hour later and about 10 miles away, the Albemarle County fire department said another vehicle became trapped by flood waters on Durrett Ridge Road.
“That driver was able to self-extricate from the vehicle,” authorities said.
The rainstorm that lingered over Central Virginia Tuesday brought roughly 3 inches of rain to much of the Charlottesville area and nearly 5 inches in and around northern Albemarle County, according to the National Weather Service. The James and Rivanna rivers and the waterways they touch, such as Preddy Creek, were particularly susceptible to flooding, according to Lee Enterprises meteorologist Sean Sublette.
The storm cleared Tuesday night, giving way to partly cloudy skies.
Albemarle County Fire Rescue used Tuesday to remind motorists to never enter a flooded roadway.
“Almost half of all flood-related deaths happen in vehicles,” the department said in a statement. “Water levels are high throughout the area and will continue to rise even after the rain ends. Take caution.”
Almost half of flood-related deaths occur in a vehicle, according to Albemarle Fire Rescue. Motorists should be mindful of barricades and warning signs and remember that 6 inches of water can easily reach the bottom of most passenger vehicles, which can make a driver lose control.