Al­berto rains cause havoc, death

The Mercury News Weekend - - NEWS - By Jef­frey S. Collins and Sarah Rankin The As­so­ci­ated Press

Heavy rains gen­er­ated by sub­trop­i­cal Storm Al­berto un­leashed flood­ing in Vir­ginia that washed out bridges, dam­aged homes, closed schools and trans­formed a nor­mally peace­ful creek into a raging river that swept away cars with peo­ple still in them.

At least one per­son was killed and res­cuers were search­ing for oth­ers.

Res­cue crews search­ing in and around Ivy Creek found the body of one of two oc­cu­pants of a Toy­ota Prius that was washed off the road Wed­nes­day night, Albe­marle County police said. A search con­tin­ued late Thurs­day af­ter­noon for the sec­ond per­son, while far­ther north in Madi­son County, the sher­iff’s of­fice said res­cuers were search­ing for a fe­male re­ported missing in wa­ter the night be­fore.

The storm, al­ready blamed for at least four deaths in the U.S. ear­lier in the week, was push­ing across the Great Lakes on Thurs­day. But the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice said the po­ten­tial for­more rain­fall and flash flood­ing would con­tinue for the South­east, the Ohio Val­ley and the mid-At­lantic through the end of the week.

Since mak­ing land­fall on Memo­rial Day in the Florida Pan­han­dle, Al­berto’s heavy rains have been wide­spread, with flood­ing re­ported from Alabama through Ten­nessee, Ken­tucky, Illi­nois, the Caroli­nas and West Vir­ginia.

In Albe­marle County, the Toy­ota Prius and a sec­ond car were swept into Ivy Creek around 9:30 p.m. Wed­nes­day.

The oc­cu­pant of one car was able to swim to a safe lo­ca­tion, police said in a news re­lease. But wit­nesses saw a man and woman get swept away as they climbed out of the Prius, Albe­marle County Fire Res­cue Chief Dan Eg­gle­ston said at a news con­fer­ence.

“Ivy Creek is nor­mally a very docile creek but with 8 to 10 inches of rain ... it turned into a swollen, raging river. And It just tossed and turned both of those ve­hi­cles,” he said.

Au­thor­i­ties also re­sponded to at least 10 other wa­ter res­cues and re­ceived re­ports of dam­age to homes, the ex­tent of which wasn’t im­me­di­ately clear, Eg­gle­ston said. Else­where in the South­east, the storms trig­gered flood­ing and mud­slides.

In the North Carolina moun­tain town of Boone, one of those mud­slides was blamed for a gas leak and ex­plo­sion that de­stroyed a home Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, killing two peo­ple.

Four North Carolina dams be­ing closely watched by a state teamof spe­cial en­gi­neers were hold­ing up, Gov. Roy Cooper said. Au­thor­i­ties in Cuba said Al­berto left four peo­ple dead as the storm drenched the is­land.

In­te­rior Min­is­ter Julio Ce­sar Gan­dar­illa said late Tues­day they died as a re­sult of “reck­less­ness” dur­ing the storm. He gave no de­tails. The deaths oc­curred as au­thor­i­ties worked to con­tain an oil spill in cen­tral Cuba’s Cien­fue­gos Bay that fol­lowed the flood­ing of nearby oil re­fin­ery.

AN­DREW SHURTLEFF — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Search crews found a body Thurs­day be­lieved to have been swept away in flood wa­ters near Char­lottesville, Va.

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