Shooting Suspect Arraigned — “The man charged with shooting a woman he knew in her Crystal City, Virginia, office on Aug. 28 has had his first court appearance in Arlington County District Court. Mumeet Muhammad was arraigned on three felony counts: aggravated malicious wounding; use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, 2nd offense; and being a violent felon in possession of a weapon.” [WTOP]
Coastal Flooding Discussion — “The Northern Virginia Coastal Storm Risk Management Study will focus on sites in Arlington County, the City of Alexandria, Fairfax County, northern Prince William County, and at the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority’s Reagan National Airport–as part of an effort to reduce coastal flood risk to people, properties, and infrastructure.” [MWCOG]
ACPD Wins State Award — “The Arlington County Police Department received top honors in the Municipal 5: 301-600 Officers Category in the 2019 Virginia Law Enforcement Challenge Awards.” [Arlington County]
Arlington’s Lonely Turkey Vulture — “Hallmark doesn’t have a card for it – yet – but the first Saturday of September nonetheless is celebrated as International Vulture Awareness Day. And in Arlington, that means a visit to Long Branch Nature Center and Tippy the resident turkey vulture.” [InsideNova]
Nearby: Falls Church Sheriff Vehicle Burns — “At approximately 6 a.m., City of Falls Church Police and the Arlington Fire Department responded to a call for a vehicle fire at City Hall… The vehicle was a marked Sheriff’s cruiser and was totaled in the blaze. An officer near the scene stopped a suspicious person for questioning, and subsequently arrested him.” [City of Falls Church]
It’s been a tumultuous road to recovery for two Westover stores devastated by this summer’s record-breaking floods.
Ayers Variety and Hardware and Westover Market and Beer Garden are local institutions that were unfortunately placed directly in the path of floodwaters. Waters flooded both stores and knocked out power to the block.
“Every week it gets better,” said Devin Hicks, manager of Westover Market. “This place has never looked so clean and the community support has been tremendous.”
As Westover Market approaches its ten-year anniversary, Hicks said he’s feeling optimistic.
“It’s been a fight the entire time,” Hicks said. “But everyone’s been remarking that they’re happy to see us persevere. It’s been a rough two months, but it gets better every day.”
Next door, however, recovery has not been as easy for Ayers. The local store has been in business for 70 years selling everything from gardening supplies to plastic toys. But Kristy Peterkin, a manager for the store, said the business was already hard-hit by recent tariffs from the ongoing trade war with China.
“At the same time as the flood, one tier of the China trade tariff hit,” Peterkin said. “Now the second tier is starting to take effect. That’s a big hit.”
Peterkin says the company tries to buy American, but most of the stock they sell is almost exclusively manufactured overseas.
“Probably about 75 percent of what we sell is not American-made,” Peterkin said, “and we’ve seen a 25 percent increase in the prices. Walmart absorbs that price, but we can’t.”
The flood heavily exacerbated what was already a not-so-great situation. Water poured into the Ayers basement, ruining thousands of dollars in merchandise and leaving the store with nowhere to put overstocked goods. Today, half of the basement remains unusable.
“Until that’s fixed, we have nowhere to store additional [stock] that comes in,” Peterkin said. “We’re out of money to spend paying people to fix things, so repairs are on us now, which takes a lot longer. My husband and I work evenings trying to clear the basement.”
The basement flooding has left the store with limited inventory, as Peterkin said they have to be more careful about what they purchase because there’s no room to store surplus and they can’t afford to take a risk on items that they aren’t sure will sell.
“We’re kind of in a rough place right now,” Peterkin said. “I don’t know how that will look in the long run. We’re taking it one step at a time.”
Both stores said a GoFundMe campaign set up to support Westover retailers was a tremendous boon at a time of dire need. Hicks said Westover Market received roughly $30,000 and was particularly thankful to Whitlow’s On Wilson in Clarendon, which hosted a fundraiser event for the Westover stores.
“The event at Whitlow’s was great,” Hicks said. “It had a great turnout, there was great music, and everyone really rallied.”
Ayers received roughly $32,000 and Peterkin said the funding took a chunk out of the estimated $250,000 in lost sales and merchandise.
Peterkin also said there was an initial uptick in sales after the flood where members of the community came out to support the store, but since then numbers have dwindled back down and revenue is flat.
“In business, flat basically means down,” Peterkin said. “If business is flat, everything else still goes up, like rent and payroll and insurance. But to stay competitive, we can’t raise prices to accommodate.”
With winter on the way and a heating unit still out of service from the floods, Peterkin said there are still more costs looming on the horizon and no clear way to afford to pay for them.
There are also concerns that if heavy storms sweep through the area again, the same damage will happen all over. During the floods, Hicks said he saw the sewage pipes in the area become almost immediately overwhelmed and start spewing the water back up into the streets.
“The county needs to address this,” Hicks said. “They need to clean the sewage drains. They have to address it county-wide because it’s only going to get worse.”
Early estimates put damage to the county at $3.5 million, but Hannah Winant, a spokesperson for Arlington County Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management, said estimates for the damage to county property has swelled to $5.8 million. Those costs include debris cleanup, emergency protective measures, and repairs to County facilities like parks and community centers.
Winant said bridges in Lubber Run and Glencarlyn parks suffered the worst damage from the storms. A storage building at Bon Air park was also seriously damaged, as were other pedestrian bridges, playgrounds and more across Arlington. Additionally, the County is assessing the erosion to local waterways that could require long-term fixes.
Arlington has submitted its preliminary assessment to the state, but after the state receives the assessment it must be validated.
“This process can go on for a few weeks, as crews triage the damage and more information becomes available,” Winant said. “This is where we are now.”
Once the state completes its assessment, that information is submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), after which the agency portions out funding and technical support for public properties that have been damaged.
“Reimbursement is also being sought through the County’s insurance,” Winant said. “During this time, the County cleans up from the disaster, removing the debris and cleaning right-of-way, and tries to get back to normal operations for the community such as opening parks and other affected facilities. The recovery process can be a long one and we appreciate the community’s patience and support as we navigate the process of requesting aid.”
Going forward, Winant predicted recovery costs will continue to increase as weather changes become more severe.
“Weather is consistently increasing in its severity and frequency,” Winant said “Nationally, both insured and uninsured losses continue to grow — so costs from disasters are rising as disaster frequency also increases.”
For homeowners, businesses, and renters who were affected by the flooding, the Small Business Administration is offering low-interest loans. The filing deadline for physical property damage is Oct. 7, and the deadline for economic injury applications from business owners is May 7, 2020.
(Updated at 10:15 p.m.) If you are someone whose home or business was damaged in the July 8 flooding, Arlington has launched a temporary Local Recovery Center (LRC) to help get your life back together.
The center helps connect residents with a variety of resources — like senior services or a table detailing what to do if you find mold in your home — but the main feature of the LRC is the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which is offering flexible, low-interest loans for those impacted by the floods.
The LRC is located on the second floor of the Arlington County Trades Center (2700 S. Taylor Street). The Center is scheduled to operate for the next week:
- Today-Thursday: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
- Friday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
- Saturday: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
- Monday: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (SBA loan center only)
A similar center will operate in the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library (7584 Leesburg Pike) in Fairfax County.
Locals who experienced flood damage in Arlington, Alexandria or Fairfax County may be eligible for SBA loans.
“Our qualifications are not as stringent [as a bank loan],” said Julie Garrett, a public affairs specialist for the SBA. “You must demonstrate that you can pay back the loan, but it’s very flexible.”
There are three categories of loans available:
- Business Physical Disaster Loans — These loans are for businesses to repair or replace disaster-damaged property, like merchandise and machinery, though the loans are also available for non-profit organizations. Businesses of any size can apply.
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans — These loans are aimed at helping small businesses or agricultural cooperatives make up for lost revenue from days that they were closed. Garrett said these can be especially important for mom-and-pop businesses that operate on monthly or quarterly cycles that may have difficulty paying their bills.
- Home Disaster Loans — These loans are for homeowners or renters to repair or replace flood-damaged homes or property, which can range from clothing to cars.
All applicants are required to have a credit history and must be able to show that they can repay all their loans. Garrett said there is no collateral required for loans under $25,000. If the loan is approved, Garrett said the applicants have 60 days to decide whether they want to accept it.
Many of those whose homes or businesses were impacted by flooding have already started work on repairing their property, and Garrett said loans can also be applied to damages paid for out-of-pocket. Those who have already paid to fix their damages are required to have receipts of their purchases and photos of the damage.
“We loan based on the amount of damage,” Garrett said. “Most insurance offers a depreciated value [for property], but we look at replacement value.”
The loans may also cover damages to fences, decks, garages, tree removal and property considered in the “immediate vicinity” of a house.
Aaron Miller, director of emergency management for Arlington County, said the County has received just over 1,000 reports of damages from people and businesses across Arlington. Garrett said only 26 individuals had applied for home disaster loans so far, but more are expected as people learn of and visit the LRC.
Applicants requesting a loan for physical damage are required to file by Oct. 7, while filings for economic injury have a deadline of May 7, 2020.
Meanwhile, Miller said the County is working through financing its own flood recovery — a process that could take months.
“We are continuing to go through assessments for public assistance,” Miller said. “That’s everything from emergency repairs to the longer recovery process.”
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will dole out federal loans of up to $200,000 for damage to people’s homes, or up to $2 million for damage to their businesses. Homeowners and renters are also eligible for loans of up to $40,000 covering the cost of the many personal possessions lost in the unusually strong storm.
Residents and small business owners in Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax County are eligible to apply.
Residents will have until October 7, 2019 to request a loan to cover physical property damage, and businesses will have until May 7, 2020 to request a loan for economic damage.
“Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes,” the governor’s office and Virginia Department of Emergency Management wrote a joint press release. “Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.”
The terms SBA sets for the loans will depend on the individual, officials say, but can last 30 years with interest rates around 4% for businesses, 2.75% for nonprofits, and 1.938% for homeowners.
“The SBA is strongly committed to providing the people of Virginia with the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist businesses of all sizes, homeowners and renters with federal disaster loans,” said Acting Administrator Christopher Pilkerton.
“We appreciate the Small Business Administration approving our request for financial assistance to help Virginians get back on their feet and move forward as quickly as possible,” Northam said in a statement. “We will continue working in close coordination with the affected communities to support their recovery.”
In the meantime, SBA is setting up a space in Arlington for residents to come with questions about the loan process. The space, dubbed the “Disaster Loan Outreach Center,” will be located in the Arlington Trades Center (2700 S. Taylor Street) and will open for about a week, starting next Tuesday.
The schedule, per the governor’s office:
- Tuesday, August 13 — 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM
- Wednesday, August 14 — 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM
- Thursday, August 15 — 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM
- Friday, August 16 — 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
- Saturday, August 17 — 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
- Sunday, August 18 — CLOSED
- Monday, August 19 — 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM
In addition to online applications at DisasterLoan.sba.gov, paper applications can be mailed to the SBA’s Processing and Disbursement Center, located at 14925 Kingsport Road in Fort Worth, TX.
Residents can contact the SBA with questions by emailing [email protected]
Over 1,000 residents filed damage reports with the county and Arlington declared a state of emergency in the hopes of applying for state and federal aid. As repair costs mounted and the county said it wasn’t liable for sewer damage, several businesses, neighborhoods, and homeowners said they were forced to set up online fundraising campaigns.
The July flash floods dealt an estimated $4.1 million worth of damage to county-owned property and damaged dozens of buildings on the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. These properties are not eligible for SBA loans.
(Updated at 2 p.m.) Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall is assessing damage to two dozen different buildings on the base caused by last month’s disastrous flooding, per a spokesperson.
“The base is still assessing the damage sustained during the flooding and is working on a report to be forwarded to our higher headquarters at the Army’s Installation Management Command,” said JBMHH Spokeswoman Leah Rubalcaba.
“There were a total of 26 facilities across our three bases of Fort Myer, Henderson Hall and Fort McNair that sustained water damage,” Rubalcaba told ARLnow in an email yesterday (Thursday.) “Military organizations do not have insurance, but are allotted an annual budget for operations and maintenance. Then, based on the final assessment and funding availability, additional funds will be forwarded to JBM-HH for repairs.”
She said the base has had to move events, like a recent job fair, into the basketball court because the community center is currently unusable.
“Somehow water got under the flooring and the floor buckled so nobody can walk on it,” she said.
Additionally, one bus from Marine Corps Base Quantico was parked in the lower lot by Henderson Hall — part of the headquarters of the U.S. Marine Corps — when rain flooded the area, damaging the bus along with four cars and a forklift.
The Henderson Hall parking lot, dubbed the “lower flood lot,” is prone to flooding because of the landscape’s natural drainage. But in her 15 years of working on the base, Rubalcaba said she’s never seen flooding as high as during the storm on July 8.
“We know we’re going to get a little bit of rain there. But usually like an inch,” she said. “That’s why we don’t build anything there. People know that’s what happens and they stay away from it.”
The unusually strong storm last month dumped 3-4 inches of water in an hour on Arlington. Roads, businesses and homes across the county were inundated with water and sewage with one stream swallowed whole by a broken pipe.
Countywide, the storm wrought an estimated $4 million in damages to publicly-owned property alone.
“We’re hoping to get some extra funding just to get everything repaired,” said Rubalcaba.
Arlingtonians have a “can-do” attitude but the county is asking residents to refrain from cleaning up flood debris in local parks.
Residents have been taking matters into their own hands following the July 8 flooding, according to Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish, but it’s a job best left to the professionals.
The flooding caused $3.5 million in damage to county infrastructure, particularly in local parks, and the cleanup effort is still in progress. Officials are asking residents for patience while the work continues.
From the parks department website:
Let’s be careful out there! We sustained a lot of damage in the storm. Our crews have been out to evaluate and install protective barriers around impacted areas. For your safety, do not cross the fences or caution tape in our playgrounds, bridges, walking paths and park areas. While we appreciate Arlington’s “Can-Do” attitude, debris along streams and creeks will be cleaned up by Park staff and contractors, please do not attempt to move, play or handle such debris.
“Safety is our number one concern and we have seen signs in the parks of debris and things being moved,” Kalish told ARLnow. “We are being proactive in our messaging by posting that notice as we know how much our community cares about and uses our parks.”
“Parks and Recreation hasn’t received any reports of injuries,” Kalish added.
Photo courtesy @btj/Twitter
New Coworking Space Coming to Ballston — “Piedmont Office Realty Trust signed a 29K SF lease with WeWork at its Arlington Tower office building at 901 North Glebe Road in Ballston, the REIT said in its Q2 earnings release Wednesday evening. The coworking giant will take the entire fifth floor and plans to open before the end of the year, Piedmont Director Chris Poppell tells Bisnow.” [Bisnow]
Disaster Declaration May Be Coming Soon — “A disaster designation based on damage assessments in Arlington County would allow homeowners and businesses in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County to apply for low-interest federal loans beginning as soon as next week to help pay for repairs. Fairfax County Emergency Management Coordinator Seamus Mooney expects the designation to be approved within the next two weeks.” [WTOP]
Changes Proposed for Pentagon City Hotel — “The owner of the DoubleTree by Hilton in Crystal City is gearing up for a play to capitalize on the 627-room hotel’s proximity to Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters. Tom Baltimore, CEO of the hotel’s owner, Park Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: PK), told analysts on its second-quarter earnings call Thursday that the hotel is one of several the company is evaluating as possible redevelopment opportunities.” [Washington Business Journal]
Video: Dark Star Park Day — A timelapse video captured the moment on Thursday morning when the shadows lined up at Rosslyn’s Dark Star Park, as happens once a year on Aug. 1. [Twitter]
Arlington Boy Lives Dream in Boston — “There was a special visitor to the WBZ Weather Center on Thursday. Noah Coon from Arlington, Virginia is a big weather fan and stopped by the studio thanks to Dream On 3. Noah has cerebral palsy and was in Boston to visit the Red Sox. Because he’s also a fan of meteorology, he came to visit the WBZ weather team.” [WBZ]
Video: Yorktown vs. W-L — Just published online: “Long-lost footage of the famous Nov. 5, 1970, mud bowl football game between the Yorktown High School Patriots and the Washington-Lee Generals. Yorktown was favored with a 9-0 record but W-L won 12-0 and earned the Potomac District championship. [YouTube]
Update at 6:20 p.m. — The watches have been canceled.
Update at 1:25 p.m. — A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has also been issued for Arlington, from 1:15-9 p.m.
A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for parts of CT, DE, DC, MD, MA, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VA until 9 PM EDT pic.twitter.com/fzUH5HeGOm
— NWS Severe Tstorm (@NWSSevereTstorm) July 31, 2019
Earlier: Heavy rain and storms could lead to flash flooding today, forecasters say.
The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for Arlington, D.C., and a portion of the I-95 corridor. The watch is in effect from 2-8 p.m. today.
…FLASH FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM EDT THIS EVENING… THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A * FLASH FLOOD WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF MARYLAND, THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA, INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING AREAS, IN MARYLAND, ANNE ARUNDEL, CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST HOWARD, CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST MONTGOMERY, BALTIMORE, HARFORD, AND PRINCE GEORGES COUNTIES. THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA, ARLINGTON/FALLS CHURCH/ALEXANDRIA AND FAIRFAX. * UNTIL 8 PM EDT THIS EVENING * SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING VERY HEAVY RAINFALL ARE EXPECTED ACROSS THE AREA THIS AFTERNOON AND INTO THE EVENING. THIS HEAVY RAIN MAY LEAD TO LOCALIZED TOTAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF UP TO 3 INCHES. MUCH OF THIS RAIN MAY FALL IN SHORT PERIODS OF TIME IN ANY GIVEN LOCATION, RESULTING IN THE RISK FOR FLASH FLOODING. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A FLASH FLOOD WATCH MEANS THAT CONDITIONS MAY DEVELOP THAT LEAD TO FLASH FLOODING. FLASH FLOODING IS A VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION. YOU SHOULD MONITOR LATER FORECASTS AND BE PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION SHOULD FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS BE ISSUED. &&
A Flash Flood Watch has been issued for areas along the I-95 corridor from Washington D.C northward through Maryland until 8 pm. Showers and thunderstorms capable of producing heavy rain may lead to localized areas of flash flooding. pic.twitter.com/YH3IWjo14R
— NWS DC/Baltimore (@NWS_BaltWash) July 31, 2019
Forecasters are also monitoring for the possibility of severe storms this afternoon.
NWS issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for the area, the precursor for a possible severe thunderstorm watch or warning.
THUNDERSTORMS MAY PRODUCE SCATTERED INCIDENTS OF DAMAGING WIND GUSTS THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING, AS WELL AS HEAVY RAINFALL WHICH MAY RESULT IN ISOLATED INSTANCES OF FLOODING. THE HIGHEST RISK IS ALONG THE I-95 CORRIDOR WHERE A FLASH FLOOD WATCH IS IN EFFECT.
Severe thunderstorms are possible this afternoon into early evening, with damaging winds being the primary threat. Heavy rainfall will also be possible, potentially leading to isolated instances of flash flooding. pic.twitter.com/U7FdAoJ0iX
— NWS DC/Baltimore (@NWS_BaltWash) July 31, 2019
The campaign started the day after the flood by a customer at Ayers Variety & Hardware (5853 Washington Blvd) with an initial aim of $25,000. As of today, the campaign has raised $77,231 out of a new $100,000 goal.
The first $70,000 collected for the campaign is planned to be released sometime this week, according to the GoFundMe page, with Ayers set to receive 41 percent of the proceeds while Westover Market and Beer Garden (5863 Washington Blvd) will receive 35 percent of the proceeds. The two businesses were the most heavily hit by the flooding.
Additionally, the Forest Inn is planned to receive 15 percent of the proceeds, while Grand Hunan Restaurant, Blue Groove Soundz, and Pete’s Barbershop will all receive 3 percent.
The GoFundMe page pledged that 100 percent of funds collected will be delivered directly to the merchants by cashier’s checks drawn on a Wells Fargo donation account.
On the surface, business as usual has resumed in the stores on the north side of the 5800 block of Washington Blvd. But all of the stores faced days without sales, and some are still dealing with the damages invisible from the street.
An employee at Ayers Variety & Hardware said the staff is still working to clear away flood-damaged items from the store’s basement, which held all of the store’s stock and was filled to the ceiling with water. Behind the store, rows of ruined merchandise are stacked near the trash disposal.
Kristy Peterkin, a manager at Ayers Variety & Hardware, estimated the storm caused at least $100,000 in damages to their merchandise.
Staff at Pete’s Barbershop said the store was without power — and without business — for five days.
The campaign is scheduled to end in August.
Tickets to the Whitlow’s event are $20 at the door. Raffle prizes, food and drink specials, and live music planned for the occasion.
A fundraiser for the Westover residents is planned this coming Friday, Aug. 2, from 6-9 p.m. at the Westover Market and Beer Garden. The event will feature live music and a tap takeover by Founders Brewing.
After Wendy Naus put out a message on the neighborhood’s group-text chain asking if anyone was available to help move her shed, which was washed across the yard by floodwaters, around ten people showed up and spent two hours gradually shifting the large, blue shed back into its former position.
Some of those who came to help still have not moved back into their own flood-damaged homes, said Naus.
“On the one hand I’m in awe of these people, many of whom still aren’t living in their homes,” she said. “On the other hand, I’m not surprised,” given the close-knit nature of the community.
“I’m more shocked that it worked,” Naus added. “The look on everyone’s face when we moved it… we were shocked that it worked.”
Naus jacked the building up onto cinder blocks, and the neighbors laid planks down across the yard like tracks to slide it back into position. A time-lapse video she shared (below) shows the painstaking work in progress.
Naus said this is just the latest example of how the neighborhood has rallied and helped each other in the days and weeks after floods swept through many local homes. When Naus needed some help dismantling the damaged tiles in her basement, five locals showed up to help clear away the rubble.
“The same group of neighbors on this one small block have all been helping each other out over the last few weeks,” Naus said. “I’ve been hashtagging ‘#BestBlockInAmerica’ for weeks.”
But for the residents of Westover, normalcy is still out of reach.
“It’s been slow,” Naus said. “The air conditioning has been replaced and our missing door and windows have been boarded up. It’s safe, but not it’s just the waiting game for longer-term things. We’re still waiting to hear back from the County on mitigation plans for the future since everyone’s reluctant to work on their basements. It’s still livable, but there’s a long road ahead.”
In the meantime, Naus said it was nice to see everyone smiling and happy at a small celebration after the shed was moved back.
“We all just needed a win,” Naus said. “The shed symbolizes a tangible thing that’s sort of a positive in the aftermath of this flood. It was a morale boost for us.”
Photos 1 & 2 courtesy Wendy Naus