September 23, 2023

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Investigation underway after deadly flood inside DC dog day care

4 min read

Ten dogs died inside the District Dogs canine center after six-feet floodwaters rushed into the business

WASHINGTON — District officials have launched an investigation into a recent flooding event that killed 10 dogs inside a canine care center on Rhode Island Avenue Northeast. The dogs drowned after rapidly rising floodwaters poured into District Dogs when a front wall with windows broke through during storms Monday afternoon. 

Councilmember Zachary Parker, who represents the area affected, said the tragedy warrants additional information from DC Water about what was done prior to the storm and if there was potential drain blockage from construction debris in the area.

In a letter sent to the water authority, the Ward 5 representative has requested they provide a written response or a briefing by Aug. 24. 

Twenty people were ultimately rescued from flooding in the area and 20 dogs were saved from inside the District Dogs location in Northeast D.C., according to D.C. Fire Chief John Donnelly.  By Tuesday, it was confirmed that 10 dogs had died. 

Fire officials say six-feet floodwaters made a wall inside the canine center give out sending rushing water into the business. 

DC Water said the intense rainfall can overwhelm the existing sewer system on Rhode Island Avenue because storm water flows in from multiple directions including from the tracks above. 

“This is a city failure,” said Parker, who is also asking for an update regarding the completion of the Northeast Boundary Tunnel project that is intended to help mitigate areas with chronic flooding.  “The tunnel was going to be online this fall. We are devastated by the repeated flooding in the area that jeopardized people’s lives, damaged this building, and cost many people their pet’s lives.” 

DC Water said the earliest they were hoping to complete the Northeast Boundary Tunnel was March of this year. They say the project was impacted by COVID, supply chain challenges and the economy’s impact on construction labor. A spokesperson told WUSA9 that crews have had to evacuate the tunnels for their own safety during rainstorms. 

“Our contractor is commissioning the tunnel now and it is expected to open by the end of September, adding 90 million gallons of storage for stormwater,” DC Water said in a statement. “The tunnel, which is designed for a 15-year storm, will not prevent all flooding from intense storms but will lessen their impact.” 

Until then, ANC Commissioner Joe Bishop-Henchman says steps should be taken to protect his northeast neighbors. 

“Should we rethink flood barriers?” he asked. “Should we rethink closing the road in flash flood situations when the alert goes out? Should we rethink what business should be there?” 

Parker said his office is also looking into a delay from the time emergency calls were made to when first responders were sent to the scene. 

“Fifteen minutes from the time that employees from District Dogs were calling into 911 until authorities were officially dispatched, is our preliminary understanding,” Parker said. 

He has requested additional information from D.C.’s Office of Unified Communications about their response times. 

“Fifteen minutes could have made the difference in saving lives or reducing damage,” Parker said. 

The 911 Call Center has been under scrutiny after allegations of dropped calls, long waits, and dispatching crews to wrong locations.  Just last month, the D.C. Council approved emergency legislation to require the D.C. office to be more transparent with the public regarding mistakes. 

WUSA9 reached out to the D.C. Office of Unified Communications but by the time of publication had not heard back from the agency. 

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2023-08-15 22:06:43

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