Heavy rains flood territory

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ST. THOMAS - Torrential downpours drenched much of the territory Thursday afternoon, although the worst of the flooding occurred in the low-lying areas of St. Thomas.

Gary Votaw, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan, said the rain gauge at King Airport recorded more than 3 inches of rain in about two hours Thursday afternoon. The heavy rain Wednesday evening totaled about 1.25 inches, he said.

St. Croix's gauge at Rohlsen Airport recorded about 1 inch Thursday, he said.

"I'm concerned that this might be a daily thing the next few days," Votaw said. "It's just not going to go anywhere for a while."

The V.I. Alert system, which sends alerts via text, phone call, fax or email from the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, sent out a message Thursday afternoon warning motorists of flooded roadways around St. Thomas.

A flash flood advisory also was in effect Thursday.

Crown Mountain Road had falling rocks and landslides obstructing sections of the road, according to VITEMA.

Other areas that experienced flooding included: Main Street, Harwood Highway, Brookman Road, Tutu, Griffith Park, Lindbergh Bay, Nisky and Altona. VITEMA urged motorists to proceed with extreme caution.

"Never drive your vehicle into areas where the water covers the roadway. Flood waters are usually deeper than they appear. Just one foot of flowing water is powerful enough to sweep vehicles off the road," the VITEMA alert said.

The rain caused at least two manhole covers to come loose, according to V.I. Waste Management Authority spokeswoman Stella Saunders. One was in Market Square and the other by Ulke Gade, also known as Simmonds Alley, she said.

"We've had some manholes popping up," she said.

The territory's storm water drainage system falls under the V.I. Public Works Department, while the Waste Management Authority is responsible for the sewage and wastewater systems. However, in some places the systems are connected, which means heavy rains can overwhelm some pump stations, Saunders said.

"Our guys have been busy out there working hard in the rain," she said.

Saunders said people should report any manhole covers out of place or any other problems with the sewer lines to 690-4218.

Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls could not be reached for comment.

Votaw said the heavy rain is forecast to continue today, turning to more scattered showers during the weekend and through Monday.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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