City Comes Through Storm Relatively Unscathed
By STEPHEN SIEGEL
Falls Church Times Staff
October 30, 2012
Despite catastrophic predictions along the lines of last summer’s destructive “derecho,” Falls Church City appears to have been relatively unscathed by the giant tropical-winter storm hybrid Hurricane Sandy, according to interviews and observations.
That’s not to minimize the damage that did occur. Some residents still don’t have power, many businesses are closed, and at least one major artery in town is blocked by a fallen tree, which took the power lines with it.
But the numbers pale compared to the derecho.
A Falls Church Times review, which admittedly is not exhaustive, found only two roads blocked by trees around noon Tuesday, and only one that is a busy thoroughfare: Lincoln Avenue, which is closed at the 400 block, near the Arlington and Fairfax borders.
The other impassable street is Irving, a one block road that runs between Ellison and Parker. Two cars are imprisoned on Irving as well, although they don’t appear to have suffered significant damage.
Other observations of storm damage include trees down in a variety of yards, including one that took down a power line on Villa Ridge. Time staffer Kathleen Nixon reports that a tree fell onto the addition of a home on Forest Drive. The flashing red by Thomas Jefferson Elementary School was not functioning as of 12 pm.
Power outages were significant, but not overwhelming. All traffic lights (other than the aforementioned four-way stop) appeared to be working, but the light at Little Falls and Great Falls was on only by virtue of a generator. Residents nearby at Maple and Great Falls had their power out and were using an inverter to power some of their home’s systems.
Many businesses were open, but not all. Giant Food was open, as was Panera and Papa John’s, which appeared to be delivering pizza. But Mad Fox was closed. The Local Market was open, while the nearby Broaddale Center had an empty parking lot, presumably because of a lack of power.
A street light pole had been toppled in the 200 block of West Broad, just east of Maple, and a house on Buxton appeared to have suffered some roof damage, because it had a blue tarp atop it. Trees were observed down in front yards on Lee and Parker, but the roads were clear. Rite Aid and Taco Bell were open, as was BJ’s Wholesale.
Multiple Times staffers report that Four Mile Run did not flood where it goes under Van Buren, as it did in the megastorm of 2011. Staffer Stephen Hiscott wrote via email that “a huge tree fell in the back of the Falls Church Presbyterian parking lot, but didn’t damage a neighboring fence or hit the boy scout trailer a few feet away.” He continued: “I suspect the majority of the tree is still there. The sexton was clearing smaller limbs with a chainsaw.”
Staffer Barb Cram reports minimal damage, even to her giant campaign sign near Cherry and Columbia. But she did get water in her basement. But she wasn’t complaining. “I think we were really lucky,” she wrote via email.
The Community Center lost power and switched to a generator on Monday, Times staffer Stan Fendley reports. He did not know if the power had been restored Tuesday. Kent Taylor, who lives on Lincoln, also reports that he lost two 50 foot trees. Mr. Taylor kindly sent along this photo, featuring Tyler Taylor and Ben Kravinsky:
Lincoln appeared to be among the hardest hit streets, as this house just a couple of blocks from Mr. Taylor also lost two trees, one that was toppled, and another that was uprooted:
Dominion Power’s online map of power outages showed no major power interruptions, but around 1,000 customers in Falls Church City without power. Larger interruptions in Northern Virginia were in south Arlington, near Interstate 395, and, closer to home, there appeared to be a sizable area without power near Shreve and Fairwood, in Fairfax County.
Times readers are encouraged to help update any storm-related information.
By Stephen Siegel
October 30, 2012