Woman rescued from car roof during Northside flooding

Posted at 6:17 PM, Jul 31, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-01 08:59:07-04

Richmond, Va. (WTVR) - In the north side of Richmond's, underneath the railroad overpass on Magnolia street, the warning signs for possible flooding are posted everywhere.

There are even flashing lights. But for Deborah Simmons, all she could see Tuesday afternoon was rain gushing down.

“I was just on my way back home and the storm hit all of a sudden,” she said.

Heading east on Magnolia Street in her silver Honda in the pouring rain, right before Simmons reached the bottom of the hill at the overpass, she says she encountered what looked like a river.

Then, before she could slam on the brakes her car was totally submerged in water.

“It just blanketed us and that`s when I saw the car going under, and the water was all the way up here,” said Simmons, as she referred to the car covered in water.

Simmons said she couldn't move - and noticed a car in front of her, also stuck, so she crawled out of her car and jumped on top of her car to see if she could swim over a help the driver.

“When these things happen, you don`t think about yourself first, you think about someone else who might need help,” she said.

But before she could reach the driver of the other car, firefighters arrived and rescued her.

The driver of the silver Hyundai, firefighters say, had already abandoned the car by the time they arrived.

After the water receded, the road was covered with debris.

Simmons, with the help of her brother, was able to grab some of her things from the car before the tow trucks came and picked it up.

Firefighters and police couldn't tell us why the street flooded, saying it is either a clogged drain or the water diversion mechanism isn't working.

Simmons is just glad to be okay.

“Going over to my mom`s and get some clothes at the house, because I`m soaking wet, but I`ll be fine,” she said.

Angela Fountain with the City of Richmond’s Department of Public utilities said it’s a low lying area that fills up when it rain, but usually drains just as quickly. She also said the city hasn't received any complaints recently about the low lying area.

We asked Fountain if there is something that can be done to fix the problem. She suggested a retention wall, but there are no plans to add it right now.