Labor Day weekend off to a rainy start

WILLIAMSBURG- Labor Day weekend in greater Williamsburg dawned to flood warnings, dark clouds and a tropical storm system tracking up the Atlantic coastline. 

Although the main impact of the storm was felt southeast of the Historic Triangle, the system caused brief power outages, sparse crowds in Colonial Williamsburg and a shutdown of the Jamestown-Scotland ferry. 

Power went out in Colonial Williamsburg shortly after 8:30 a.m. By 10 a.m. most of the power was back on in shops in Merchant's Square. 

Although Duke of Gloucester Street was mostly empty Saturday morning, the visitors who were out were not deterred by the threat of the tropical storm.

"I think it's wonderful Virginia weather, "said Tony Steer, who is visiting from Ohio. "I prefer the breeze to the blazing sun...I know full well that I have a drip-dry body. I've always dried off. "

Dominion reported close to 1,200 customers were without power in Williamsburg, and another 725 were out in James City. 

Wind gusts close to 50 mph were being reported throughout the area because of Hermine, as the storm made its way along the coast. 

Gary and Sherril Eastridge were visiting from Mobile, Alabama, and they said the brief power outage Saturday morning wasn't a matter of concern. 

"During Hurricane Frederick in '79 we lost power for 35 days," Gary Eastridge said. 

By 11 a.m. Colonial Williamsburg Spokesperson Joe Straw confirmed that all the power had been restored and all outdoor programs were expected to proceed throughout the day. 

Up the road from Colonial Williamsburg, groups of women in sororities at the College of William and Mary huddled together under porches at the sorority houses on Richmond Road. 

Saturday was a day of open houses for women interested in joining a sorority. Each of the sorority house porches were filled with young women taking pictures and staying dry in the wet weather. 

Claudia Estes, a member of Delta Delta Delta, said the purpose of the day was for potential members to meet and greet women from each sorority. She expressed sympathy for the women running through the rain after "They spent hours flat ironing their hair and doing their makeup," but she said the event was going off as planned. 

In Jamestown, the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry shut down service at 11:30 a.m. with plans to reopen at 5 p.m.

On the Surry Ferry's last trip from Jamestown to Surry before being shut down, deckhands directed all traffic to the very front of the boat on it's last run Saturday morning in order to weigh down the front.

"We may not be able to get the boat into the slip. The front apron might not make it under, "said deckhand Todd Jensen on the trip from Jamestown to Surry.

Gesturing toward the water, Jensen said the crew was becoming increasingly concerned about the level.

"High tide isn't even here until two. We have more water in here now that we do in a typical high tide, "said Jensen. "And then it is just a matter of how long the water stays in here. Even after high tide the wind is still pushing the water. It will take longer for the water to get out of here. "

The crew was able to successfully dock in Surrey, but VDOT said it was the last run for the ferry until the waters receded.

A flash flood warning by the National Weather Service remains in effect for James City and York counties through Saturday evening. The service is predicting rainfall totals of 3 to 6 inches and possible flooding in urban and poor drainage area.

McKinnon can be reached at 757-345-2341.

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