Despite days of flash flood warnings, motorists on Wednesday afternoon were out in droves trying to make their way home, or somewhere, when the sky opened up dumping tons of water onto the already soaked roads and hillsides of St. Thomas.
Visibility was almost nil as rushing waters made several foot-high fountains out of fallen rocks along the shoulders with downed trees adding to the already treacherous conditions.
Over the mountain from Charlotte Amalie to the northside, vehicles were stopped helpless at the top of driveways and minor roads that had become impassable waterfalls. Low lying areas became pools of rushing brown water and it was anybody’s guess how deep they were and what might lie under the surface. Boulders, debris and layers of small rocks made an obstacle course for those caught out in the deluge.
On the west end of the island, a tree was also reported down across part of the road.
On the down sides of the steep mountain roads, there was evidence of crumbling asphalt in areas that were already compromised from previous storms and lack of repairs. When the water recedes, it is safe to assume that minor potholes will have become major impediments.
Thunder and lightning added to the drama at regular intervals and continued two hours after it had begun around 3:45, though by then, the rain had diminished and visibility was improving as the sun was setting. However, a flash flood warning was continued until 7:15 p.m., along with expected thunder and lightning. It was reported that 3.39 inches of rain had fallen during the severe conditions.
People lost their lives in mud slides in April of 1985 and then in 2017 during the heavy rains dumped during Maria. During Marilyn in 1994, a couple was badly injured in St. John when their house slid down the side of a hill in Fish Bay.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there had been no reports of injuries.
The Department of Public Works and the island administrators of St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John to clean out major guts to mitigate flooding as a result of torrential downpours, according to a Government House news release issued Wednesday evening.
St. Thomas Administrator Avery Lewis, DPW and first responders were out making assessments, and reported the Nadir/ Bovoni area had some flooding, and that some roads in lower Charlotte Amalie were flooded.
As per reports, roads in the Sorgenfri and Northside areas were compromised. The Banco Popular/Old Cancryn School area also experienced flooding.
DPW road crews and contractors, along with Lewis and first responders, will start clearing these areas as soon as the rains subside and will continue into the morning, as long as the weather permits.
“We are asking the public to be safe and avoid these areas if they can,” the Government House statement said.