Guest Host: Sasha-Ann Simons

Flash flooding in Arlington, Virginia on July 8, 2019.

Flash flooding in Arlington, Virginia on July 8, 2019.

This morning, the Washington area faced heavy rains and a flash flood emergency issued by the National Weather Service. The flash floods have resulted in emergency water rescues and single-tracking on some Metro lines.

WAMU reporter Carmel Delshad joins us with the latest updates on the floods and what you can do to stay safe.


  • Carmel Delshad News producer, WAMU 88.5; @cdelshad


  • 12:00:02

    SASHA-ANN SIMONSYou're tuned into the Kojo Nnamdi Show. I'm Sasha-Ann Simons, sitting in for Kojo. Welcome. Coming up later in the hour, we'll hear about a new D.C. museum that shares the history and culture of the Palestinian people. Plus, we'll meet two women charged with making their art spaces more accessible for people with special needs.

  • 12:00:19

    SASHA-ANN SIMONSBut first, flash floods hit the entire D.C. region this morning, stranding cars and drivers, and forcing single tracking on some metro lines. Here to give us an update is Carmel Delshad. She's WAMU's editor and reporter. Carmel, thanks for joining us today.

  • 12:00:34

    CARMEL DELSHADThanks for having me.

  • 12:00:34

    SIMONSSo, you've been on the phones all morning, trying to find out information. Let's start with damages. What do we know about damages at this point?

  • 12:00:41

    DELSHADYeah, just like you mentioned, there's widespread flooding across the region, which has left a lot of roads damaged. Some sinkholes are being reported, as well, across the entire D.C. region, so not just in Virginia or Maryland. And George Washington Parkway in particular is pretty bad. There are people that were stranded there. Several counties are responding to distressed calls from people that are stranded in their cars.

  • 12:01:05

    DELSHADAnd until 1:45 today, we have a flash flood warning for the entire region, which means that flooding is imminent or occurring. And, again, it can happen very fast, so officials are urging people to remain alert and stay off the roads, if they can.

  • 12:01:17

    SIMONSSo, it's now 1:45, because I know the time had been pushed several times this morning. I kept getting the alerts on my cell phone. So, now we're at 1:45.

  • 12:01:24

    DELSHADNow we're at 1:45.

  • 12:01:25

    SIMONSHow common is this amount of rain?

  • 12:01:27

    DELSHADWell, the National Weather Service has said that the weather is not the usual flooding and warn people to seek higher ground. So, again, it's very uncommon. And the Capital Weather Gang said that the rainfall taken at Regan National Airport, just over three-and-a-half inches of rain in one hour is a record for the date among the top heaviest single day of rains since 1871 in July. So, certainly historic.

  • 12:01:54

    SIMONSNow, you've been talking, as we mentioned, to fire departments. What have you been hearing as far as like where the flooding has been worst? And did they tell you anything about like how many people they had to rescue, for example?

  • 12:02:04

    DELSHADYeah, I mean, because the situation is very fluid, officials are not quite saying how many rescues they've done. It's certainly in the dozens for the region. So, some are responding, for example, in particular areas like McClain and Vienna, George Washington Memorial Parkway. People are driving, and the thing to note is that flash floods happen very quickly, so people might not even know that they're heading toward a dangerous situation. It can take just a couple of inches to knock you off your feet, or six inches to move your car. And that can happen very swiftly.

  • 12:02:34

    DELSHADSo, fire and EMS officials are warning people to stay inside if you don't have to go out. Don't put yourself in a dangerous situation. And, again, various counties and jurisdictions like Montgomery County, Frederick County, D.C., Fairfax, Alexandria, they're all reporting the same issue. There was even a rescue on 15th and Constitution. So, even in D.C., where there's a lot of food traffic, people are getting stuck as well. So, again, remain vigilant and don't go into the water if you don't have to.

  • 12:02:59

    SIMONSYeah, and as you mentioned, you know, most of us know the turn around, don't drown public service warning. So, it makes me wonder why so many people got stranded. I saw it myself this morning. I commute from Arlington to get here to the studio. And, you know, just driving along Arlington Boulevard, I was super-thankful that I had an SUV today, because at one point, passing under a bridge, I looked to my left and my right, and both cars, sure enough, stuck. And there I was powering through the middle with my mighty little Kia Sorento. So, you know, it was a serious situation and, of course, dramatic video all over social media, all over Twitter.

  • 12:03:34

    SIMONSThere was even one circulating showing an indoor waterfall at the Virginia Square Metro, you know, affecting, you know, Metro lines there. Any updates as far as what's happening with that line?

  • 12:03:45

    DELSHADMm-hmm. I believe that Metro's no longer single-tracking, but there are residual delays, just given the enormous amount of water. The best bet is to check Metro rail info on Twitter and see updates as they happen, real-time. Because I know, for example, in La Font Plaza. there's one Metro entrance that's closed due to flooding. So, it's a very fluid situation. It's very quick to move.

  • 12:04:07

    DELSHADAnd just like you mentioned, the water can rise very quickly. So, "turn around, don't drown," that's every single public information officer I talked to today. Quote-unquote, they've said those words, because it's very, very important that people do not drive in water, especially even if it looks shallow. You don't know how deep that water could be, and you don't know what kind of situation you're getting yourself into.

  • 12:04:29

    SIMONSYeah, and I know you and the other reporters in the newsroom, of course, are anxious to get back to tracking this stuff, but I know you've mentioned before some sort of safety tips that you're hearing from EMS. How can people stay safe on their commute in this kind of weather, before you go?

  • 12:04:42

    DELSHADMm-hmm. The first thing to note is just to be patient. Your commutes are going to take longer given this extraordinary weather event happening in the region. Try to stay away from water, even if it's a creek or a stream. If there's a flash flood that can happen very quickly, that water might rise very quickly, and you might, again, be knocked off your feet.

  • 12:04:59

    DELSHADMove to higher ground, if possible, especially in affected areas which, again, is the greater D.C. region, just to put yourself in a safer situation. And officials are just saying be vigilant. Keep your eyes on the road and stay indoors, if you can.

  • 12:05:14

    SIMONSCarmel Delshad. She's an editor and reporter in the WAMU newsroom. Thank you so much again for your update, Carmel.

  • 12:05:20

    DELSHADThank you.


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