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High water disrupts life for many Louisa County residents Friday

Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2018 at 10:20 am

Water flooded Jefferson Highway (Rt. 33) in the town of Louisa on the morning of June 22. The road was closed for several hours until the water level came back down. Photo by Tina Walker

Torrential rains in Louisa County last week submerged sections of numerous roads and raised the water level on Lake Anna two feet above normal.

County fire, rescue and police personnel conducted three rescue operations June 22 to pull people out of flooded cars on Fredericks Hall Road near the town of Mineral, on Jefferson Highway (Rt. 33) outside the town of Louisa, and on Mallorys Ford Road at the Orange County line.

The rain flooded places where high water is the norm in big storms, like the bridge over the South Anna River on Yanceyville Road. Other spots on major roads that don’t usually flood did this time, notably a bridge on Shannon Hill Road (Rt. 605) just south of Old Mountain Road.

Meanwhile, at Lake Anna, lakefront property owners watched with dismay as the water rose rapidly on Friday to 252 feet above sea level. In some cases the water caused major damage to boat houses and threatened to tear boats away.

A fish out of water? No, it was just the water level by the dock at Anna Point Marina that wasn’t where it should be. Submitted by Tracy Rogers

Rick Zuercher, a Dominion Energy spokesman, said he is aware of only four other times when the lake level rose so high since its construction in the 1970s. The lake’s normal level is about 250 feet.

The company, which owns the lake and manages it for North Anna Power Station as well as for recreational uses, opened the dam gates at the lake’s eastern end Friday to enable a flow of up to 11,000 cubic feet of water per second, which equates to about 82,000 gallons. A few days earlier, the flow rate was closer to 200 cfs.

Zuercher said the company acted as quickly as it could to reduce the lake level, but had to be careful not to release too much and threaten property downstream of the dam along the North Anna River.

“We can’t control the level of the lake — we can only manage it,” he said. “We’re procedure-driven. We have to let property owners downstream know [before opening the gates].”

“When you get five inches of water in a span of five hours, there’s nowhere for that water to go,” Allan Lassiter, who owns a house on the lake, said. “I’ve been here 20 years and have never seen anything close to it.”

“I think everybody’s pier got flooded, except one neighbor who intentionally built his higher than anybody else,” he said. “A lot of boat houses had four to five inches of water in them. It certainly made a big mess.”

Alan Saunders, Virginia Department of Transportation resident engineer, said his staff plans to make minor repairs to road shoulders damaged by high water in some parts of the county in the next few weeks.

By Saturday morning, the water level on the lake and on most Louisa County roads was closer to normal levels, as the sun peeked out for the first time in days. But the heat and humidity stuck around, bringing a big thunderstorm on Sunday afternoon.

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