More than 100 evacuated in Roanoke as floodwaters rise

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ROANOKE, Va (WDBJ7) In Roanoke Thursday, rising floodwaters forced more than 100 people from their homes. Low-lying areas across the city were inundated, including the Ramada Inn on Jefferson Street.

WDBJ7 photo

The rescue there went door by door, floor by floor, nearly 30 people from the Virginia National Guard and Roanoke Police and Fire Departments pulling off an hours-long rescue at the Ramada Inn.

"We were initially going to evacuate a set number of people but when we got here that number was larger than expected," said Roanoke Fire/EMS Captain Robert Reid.

Roughly 115 guests - including dozens of homeless people housed at the motel by the city - were shuttled out with boats and trucks, the roar of the engines competing with the roar of the river

Guest Timothy Rickerson said he was thankful "for all these people doing this not only for me but for others too."

According to Robert Reid, first responders faced murky water and unseen obstacles, along with an extra challenge presented by coronavirus.

"We kept the number of people in each truck to a minimum, usually about six at a time," he said.

Evacuees were loaded onto city buses. Some were taken to motels along Peter's Creek Road, where they'll stay until it's safe to return to the Ramada.

A few miles down river, an evacuation of a different kind was underway on Arbor Avenue.

"It's rose all day, and I'm hoping this is where it stops," said Dave Freeman, pointing to the steadily creeping tide of water in his street.

Freeman is one of roughly half a dozen homeowners in this Southeast neighborhood who found their houses surrounded by the Roanoke River.

After sandbagging the door, Freeman was ready to head for a hotel. His only wish as he looked out at his flooded neighborhood: that in the morning, all this is just a memory.

"I hope so," he said. "I hope so."

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