Alexandria, VA

Alexandria’s LaMonica Johnston says that the life of her infant son was put at risk when her home was flooded on July 8.

Johnston just put her son down in his Pack ‘N Play and was laying down on her couch when water rushed into her home, located near the Hooff’s Run Culvert, a large tunnel that has some of the worst stormwater management issues in the city and handles runoff from the Del Ray, Rosemont, Beverly Hills and Northridge neighborhoods.

“When I stood up we had more than three inches of water in our home covering my ankles,” Johnston told City Council on Tuesday. “In less than 10 more minutes there was two feet of water inside the first floor of our home, along with most other homes in the area.”

On Thursday, September 10, flooding was reported throughout the city in the latest of a string of summer weather events that shut down swaths of roadways, and flooded alleyways and homes. Just as with the storms on July 8 and July 23, city sent out an advisory warning residents of “indoor sewer backups, impassable roads, power outages, and other flood-related issues.”

Mayor Justin Wilson said that the public is demanding a public conversation on the topic, and on Tuesday Council asked for an update on the city’s storm sewer infrastructure.

“This is one of the most basic services we provide as a community,” Wilson said. “We have to step up to that challenge.”

City Manager Mark Jinks reported that the city has taken a “proactive, aggressive approach to flood management and sewer maintenance in its stormwater program,” according to a city memo. “However, with climate change and the evident increase in major intense rain events which have caused major flooding, the City will need to reexamine and accelerate its stormwater planning and project implementation.”

There have been more than 500 requests for service through the City’s 311 system due to extreme rain events this year, according to a city memo.

The City’s 10-year Capital Improvement Plan includes $33 million is for a sanitary sewer asset renewal program. As such, the Four Mile Run and Commonwealth sewer sheds will be inspected early next year.

“Out of the 83 ‘problem areas’ in the City’s eight watersheds, the top two watersheds were Hooff’s Run and Four Mile Run, with 23 ‘problem areas’ each, according to the city. “More detailed planning and analysis will take place to assess the overall implementation feasibility (including construction) prior to full design of these large-scale capital projects.”

The memo states that the cleanup of the Hoof’s Run culvert will cost $2 million, and that the work will take six months.

“(A) tree contractor will be onsite within the next three weeks to remove additional brush and limb up trees with branches that currently overhang the culvert and could interfere with water flow,” notes the memo.

Regardless of citywide improvements, the city is asking residents to make home upgrades.

“This is an opportunity here where you can be thinking about how you can make your personal property more flood resilient,” said T&ES Director Yon Lambert. “Whether that’s considering flood insurance, whether that’s considering investments on your personal property, to make sure that your homes are better prepared to deal with climate change in the future.”

Johnston said that her son almost drowned in 2019 and that her family could have been electrocuted. She says that all of the water is coming from the culvert and that it is a matter of time before someone is killed.

“It’s literally three feet of water coming into our backyards, pushing into our property and there’s nothing we can do to stop it,” she said.

Council will continue the discussion on stormwater infrastructure at its next legislative meeting on October 6.

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It’s the end of a busy week in Alexandria!

Our top story was the Del Ray car crash on Mount Vernon Avenue, and there’s some good news to report. The driver, who crashed her car due to a medical emergency, was sent home without any injuries the following day.

The city also experienced flooding after Thursday’s rainstorms, prompting the City Council to get an oral report on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of stormwater management improvements. As reported, there have been more than a half dozen flood events in Alexandria this summer.

Council also received a report on the establishment of a community police review board, and sent it back for some additions. Namely, Council asked staff to include an option that would give the review board independent investigative authority, an action that prompted a police union to call the idea of the review board “superfluous.” Incidentally, crime stories are among the top articles read every week on ALXnow.

This was also the first week of the historic 2020-2021 school year, and with classes starting virtually it will be an altogether different experience than years past.

What stories impacted you this week? Let us know in the comments.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. Driver Suffers Life Threatening Injuries in Del Ray Car Crash
  2. UPDATED: Flooding Reported in Parts of City After Heavy Rain
  3. Planning Commission Approves Density Compromise Despite Outrage from Civic Associations
  4. Video: Protestors Perform ‘Die-In’ Outside Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf’s Alexandria Home
  5. Arrest Made After Shots Fired in Old Town
  6. Police Investigating Public Indecency Incidents in Del Ray
  7. Police: Three Alexandria ABC Stores Broken Into, High-End Liquor Stolen
  8. Council to Vote on Requiring Face Masks in Alexandria
  9. Just Listed in Alexandria
  10. Hundreds in ‘Trumptilla’ Boat Parade Sail Past Alexandria
  11. Alexandria Woman Uninjured in Tuesday Carjacking at Gunpoint in Potomac Yard

Have a safe weekend!

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Alexandria has experienced its fair share of flooding in recent days, and on Saturday City Council will receive an oral presentation by the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services on $750 million in water improvement projects.

On Thursday, September 10, flooding was reported throughout the city in the latest of a string of summer weather events that have shut down swaths of roadways, flooded alleyways and homes. The city sent out an advisory warning residents of “indoor sewer backups, impassable roads, power outages, and other flood-related issues.”

Nine city crews are inspecting and cleaning waterways, according to the city.

“Today’s rainfall was approximately 2.5 to 4 inches at a rate as high as 3 inches in 10 minutes,” the city said. “This was an intense, regional storm that caused widespread flooding throughout Alexandria, particularly in the eastern portion, and included storm sewer line surges and sanitary backups.”

A similar advisory was sent out after a July 23 storm, which dropped between two and three inches of rain in 30 minutes and led to flooding.

Mayor Justin Wilson said that the city is planning infrastructure improvement projects in its 10-year Capital Improvement Program.

“Today, Alexandria spends a significant amount of money on infrastructure designed to manage water,” Wilson wrote in his monthly newsletter. “In April, the City Council approved a $2.1 billion, ten-year Capital Improvement Program. Of that, over $150 million is to address stormwater and sanitary sewer infrastructure. Alexandria Renew Enterprises, the City’s sewer authority, plans another $593 million of capital investments over the next decade, primarily the RiverRenew project to remediate the Combined Sewer (sanitary and stormwater) system that serves Old Town.”

The city can currently handle a 10-year storm, but the July 8, 2019, and the July 23, 2020, storms were “more intense than this design standard, with the July 23 event about 30 times more intense,” according to the city. “Out of the 83 ‘problem areas’ in the City’s eight watersheds, the top two watersheds were Hooff’s Run and Four Mile Run, with 23 ‘problem areas’ each. More detailed planning and analysis will take place to assess the overall implementation feasibility (including construction) prior to full design of these large-scale capital projects.”

The mayor’s full message is below.

Read More

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Morning Notes

After Flooding, Councilman Says City Stormwater Management Needs Work — “Councilmember Chapman tells 7 On Your Side Thursday’s flooding means city leaders need to quickly consider wholesale changes in terms of storm management.” [WJLA]

City Extends Deadline on Personal Property Tax Payments — “To provide relief for our residents and businesses during the ongoing pandemic, the City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to extend the deadline for payment of the Personal Property Tax (Car Tax and Business). Payments are now due on December 15th.” [Twitter]

Casa Chirilagua Gets Grant to Develop Wifi-Friendly Outdoor Space — “AlexandriaVA.gov and Casa Chirilagua are working together to bridge the digital divide by building a safe and comfortable outdoor space with Wi-Fi for local students.” [Facebook]

Beyer Says Trump Watches Too Much TV — “The President says he is watching many hours of television a day as the country continues to reel amid its worst and deadliest crisis in most Americans’ lifetimes.” [Twitter]

City Wins National Technology Award for Remote 911 Call-Taking — “The annual PTI Solutions Awards recognize PTI member cities and counties that have implemented or updated innovative technology solutions within the past 15 months that positively affected local government performance and service to the public.” [CompTIA]

ALIVE! Free Food Distribution on Saturday — “ALIVE! Truck-to-Trunk will distribute food at two drive-through sites on Saturday, September 12 from 8:30 am – 10:30 am at the parking lots of Cora Kelly (3600 Commonwealth Ave) and John Adams (5651 Rayburn Ave) Elementary Schools. This distribution includes bags of shelf stable groceries, fresh produce, and eggs, while supplies last. People are encouraged to drive through. Walks-ups should maintain 6 feet social distance, wear a face mask, and bring carts or reusable bags to carry food home. “[Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Sunshine and clouds mixed during the day. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 82F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph. At night, partly cloudy. Low near 65F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Spa Coordinator — “This experience includes answering phones, scheduling spa services, greeting all customers, assisting with inquiries, and processing point of sale transactions for all products, always exceeding expectations.” [Indeed]

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(Updated at 4 p.m.) Flooding has been reported around Alexandria after a period of very heavy rain.

“Units and the water rescue team responded to multiple calls for water rescues in the Del Ray and Park Fairfax areas of Alexandria,” the local Alexandria firefighters union said on Twitter, shortly before 4 p.m.

Earlier this afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Warning for the city until 4:30 p.m.

“Turn around, don’t drown when encountering flooded roads,” notes the NWS announcement. “Most flood deaths occur in vehicles.”

Photos and videos posted to social media showed high water in several parts of the city.

Unfortunately we have again experienced another incredibly intense rain event in the City which far exceeds the design…

Posted by Justin Wilson on Thursday, September 10, 2020

https://twitter.com/patpend/status/1304114130023075841

According to NWS:

Showers and thunderstorms will produce heavy rain across the area, especially near and along the Interstate 95 corridor.

Rainfall amounts will average one to three inches, with locally higher amounts possible. Heavy rainfall may result in rapid rises of water in small creeks and streams, as well as the potential for flash flooding in urban and poor drainage areas.

Some locations that may experience flash flooding include… Arlington… Alexandria… Clinton… College Park… Fort Washington… Greenbelt… Langley Park… Beltsville… Fort Hunt… Groveton… Huntington… Coral Hills… Bladensburg… Fort Belvoir… National Harbor… Gallaudet University… Nationals Park… RFK Stadium… Howard University… Fort Totten.

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(Updated 4:15 p.m.) After a week with two flood warnings, the city is reminding residents that a program is available for the city to cover half the costs for sewer backflow prevention — a source of much of the city’s flooding problems.

The Backflow Preventer (BFP) Assistance Program reimburses homeowners for up to 50% of the costs of installing a BFP device by a licensed plumbing contractor for up to a maximum of $2,000.

When a rainfall overloads the sewer system, water can back up into basements and flood properties, as many residents in the area discovered during intense floods last year and again late last month. BFPs keep that water from backing up along the pipes back into the property.

“An automatic BFP can be equipped with a battery-operated light (much like a smoke alarm) to tell the resident when it is open or closed,” the city said on the BFP website. “To protect, the BFP must be closed during the sewage overload period. This period varies depending on the size of storm, but generally lasts from 2 to 6 hours.”

Residents can apply for assistance online. According to the city, for a property to qualify:

  • Property must have a basement (finished or unfinished)
  • Plumber licensed by the State and City must install the BFP device
  • City must be granted access to verify installation
  • Owner/plumber must have obtained an installation permit and an approved final inspection
  • Owner and installer must certify to payment in full
  • Owner must accept responsibility and release City

Image via City of Alexandria

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Flood concerns earlier this week connected with Tropical Storm Isaias ended up being a wash, but there’s a new round of flood warnings related to ongoing storms in Alexandria.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for the City of Alexandria and some surrounding localities in effect until 8:45 p.m.

“Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing heavy rain which will cause flooding,” the NWS said. “Up to one inch of rain has already fallen. Additional rainfall amounts of up to one inch are possible.”

The NWS warned that anyone encountering flooded roads should turn around, as most flood deaths occur in vehicles. Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall could also cause flooding to small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses as well as other low-lying places.

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As Alexandria hunkers down for potentially heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Isaias, some local services have been suspended.

The northern entrance to the King Street Metro station will be closed.

“The north entrance at King Street Station will also be closed Tuesday due to the potential for flooding,” Metro said in a press release. “Customers should use the station’s south entrance instead.”

The city has also suspended its curbside trash and recycling collection today.

“Residents who normally receive collection on Tuesday should not place bins or bags curbside on Monday night or Tuesday morning, and should secure any bins or bags already placed outside,” the City of Alexandria said.

According to the city:

Trash and recycling collection will “slide” by one day this week:

  • Items normally collected on Tuesday will be collected on Wednesday.
  • Items normally collected on Wednesday will be collected on Thursday.
  • Items normally collected on Thursday will be collected on Friday.

Residents needing to dispose of storm debris from their property or home can place it curbside for pickup during their next trash and recycling collection day.

Because crews will collect trash this Friday, yard waste collection is suspended for this week and will not be collected on Friday, August 7. Any yard waste materials placed curbside this week will be collected as trash. Yard waste collection is expected to resume on Friday, August 14.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), showers and a possible thunderstorm could appear before 3 p.m., then a chance of showers again between 3-5 p.m., then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 5 p.m. Tonight, the NWS says there’s a chance of showers and thunderstorms before 10 p.m., then a slight chance of showers between 10 p.m.-1 a.m.

While the main body of the storm has mostly passed Alexandria and the rain is starting to taper down, flooding can still occur after a period of intense rainfall.

In a map of service requests from the flooding two weeks ago, North Del Ray and Old Town were both areas of high concentrations for flooding.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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The weather is expected to make a dramatic turn over the next few hours.

After some early preparation last night by the Alexandria Fire Department and other city agencies, yesterday’s Flood Watch has been upgraded by the National Weather Service to a Flood Warning for Alexandria and surrounding localities.

Today’s bad weather is the result of Isaias, which made landfall in North Carolina last night as a Category 1 hurricane and is moving north. It has since been downgraded to a tropical storm.

A Flood Warning means flooding is imminent or occurring. For those driving, the National Weather Service said to turn around and not to risk flooded roads as most flood deaths occur in vehicles.

More from NWS:

BULLETIN – IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
FLOOD WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
701 AM EDT TUE AUG 4 2020

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A

* FLOOD WARNING FOR…
THE CITY OF FAIRFAX IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA…
ARLINGTON COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA…
THE CITY OF FALLS CHURCH IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA…
EASTERN FAIRFAX COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA…
THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA…

* UNTIL 100 PM EDT.

* AT 700 AM EDT, DOPPLER RADAR AND AUTOMATED RAIN GAUGES INDICATED THAT HEAVY RAIN WAS FALLING OVER THE AREA. THE HEAVY RAIN WILL CAUSE FLOODING. UP TO ONE INCH OF RAIN HAS ALREADY FALLEN.ADDITIONAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF SEVERAL INCHES ARE POSSIBLE, AND FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS COULD BE REQUIRED LATER TODAY. FOR NOW, THOUGH, FLOODING WILL BE RELATIVELY SLOW TO DEVELOP.

* SOME LOCATIONS THAT WILL EXPERIENCE FLOODING INCLUDE… ARLINGTON, ALEXANDRIA, RESTON, ANNANDALE, SPRINGFIELD, FORT WASHINGTON, FAIRFAX, FORT HUNT, VIENNA, GROVETON, FALLS CHURCH, HUNTINGTON, MANTUA, FORT BELVOIR, PIMMIT HILLS, NATIONAL HARBOR, MCLEAN, REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT, ROSSLYN AND CRYSTAL CITY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN WHEN ENCOUNTERING FLOODED ROADS. MOST FLOOD DEATHS OCCUR IN VEHICLES.

A FLOOD WARNING MEANS THAT FLOODING IS IMMINENT OR OCCURRING. ALL INTERESTED PARTIES SHOULD TAKE NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS IMMEDIATELY.

Image via National Weather Service

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(Update 7:30 p.m.) A Flash Flood Watch in effect in Alexandria from 11 p.m. tonight until 11 p.m. Tuesday night.

“Plan for hazardous wind of equivalent tropical storm force,” warned NWS. “Remaining efforts to protect property should be completed as soon as possible. Prepare for limited wind damage.”

Alexandria Fire Department spokesperson Raytevia Evans said the department is coordinating with other departments to monitor water levels to prepare, whether it’s a full storm or just a downpour.

“We’re focused across the entire city,” Evans said. “Because those floodings happen in those areas often, like Old Town, those kinds of things we’re monitoring, but we’re also making sure inland water rescue teams are prepped and ready to go for various areas.”

According to NWS:

SITUATION OVERVIEW

Significant flash flooding of small streams and creeks is likely
tonight into Tuesday evening as rainfall associated with Tropical
Storm Isaias spreads northward. Widespread rainfall totals of 3 to
6 inches are expected with locally higher amounts possible. The
highest amounts are expected east of the Blue Ridge Mountains
particularly over the I-95 corridor late tonight through Tuesday.
Tropical storm force winds are expected along and east of the
I-95 Corridor and north central Maryland. Tree damage and power
outages are possible in this area. Moderate coastal flooding is
also possible at times of high tide as Isaias makes its closest
approach to the area and continuing Wednesday morning.

POTENTIAL IMPACTS

* FLOODING RAIN:
Prepare for life-threatening rainfall flooding having possible
extensive impacts along and east of the I-95 corridor. Potential
impacts include:
– Major rainfall flooding may prompt many evacuations and rescues.
– Rivers and tributaries may rapidly overflow their banks in
multiple places. Small streams, creeks, canals, arroyos, and
ditches may become dangerous rivers. In mountain areas,
destructive runoff may run quickly down valleys while
increasing susceptibility to rockslides and mudslides. Flood
control systems and barriers may become stressed.
– Flood waters can enter many structures within multiple
communities, some structures becoming uninhabitable or washed
away. Many places where flood waters may cover escape routes.
Streets and parking lots become rivers of moving water with
underpasses submerged. Driving conditions become dangerous.
Many road and bridge closures with some weakened or washed out.

Prepare for dangerous rainfall flooding having significant impacts
east of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

* WIND:
Prepare for dangerous wind having possible significant impacts along
and east of the I-95 corridor.
Potential impacts in this area include:
– Some damage to roofing and siding materials, along with damage
to porches, awnings, carports, and sheds. A few buildings
experiencing window, door, and garage door failures. Mobile
homes damaged, especially if unanchored. Unsecured lightweight
objects become dangerous projectiles.
– Several large trees snapped or uprooted, but with greater
numbers in places where trees are shallow rooted. Several
fences and roadway signs blown over.
– Some roads impassable from large debris, and more within urban
or heavily wooded places. A few bridges, causeways, and access
routes impassable.
– Scattered power and communications outages, but more prevalent
in areas with above ground lines.

* SURGE:
Prepare for locally hazardous surge having possible moderate impacts
along the tidal Potomac River. Potential impacts in this area
include:
– Localized inundation with storm surge flooding mainly along
immediate shorelines and in low-lying spots, or in areas
farther inland near where higher surge waters move ashore.
– Sections of near-shore roads and parking lots become overspread
with surge water. Driving conditions dangerous in places where
surge water covers the road.
– Moderate beach erosion. Heavy surf also breaching dunes, mainly
in usually vulnerable locations. Strong rip currents.
– Minor to locally moderate damage to marinas, docks, boardwalks,
and piers. A few small craft broken away from moorings.

James Cullum and Vernon Miles contributed to this report

Staff photo by James Cullum

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(Updated at 2:30 a.m.) A Tropical Storm watch is in effect in Alexandria. The city is giving away sandbags as Tropical Storm Isaias approaches, but announced the location is temporarily closed.

“The sandbag pickup location at 133 S. Quaker Lane is temporarily closed while supplies are being replenished, and should reopen by approximately 4:30 p.m.” the city said in a news release. “Please do not wait at or near this location while it is closed.”

The National Weather Service says that thunderstorms will likely begin after noon, as well as gusty winds up to nearly 60 miles per hour and heavy rain. A Flash Flood Watch is also in effect from 11 p.m. tonight until 11 p.m. Tuesday night.

“Plan for hazardous wind of equivalent tropical storm force,” warned NWS. “Remaining efforts to protect property should be completed as soon as possible. Prepare for limited wind damage.”

⚠️Tropical Storm Isaias is expected to bring potentially dangerous weather when it makes landfall tonight, including heavy rainfall and strong winds. Turn around, don't drown!⚠️

Posted by DASHBus on Monday, August 3, 2020

Sandbags had been available at 133 S. Quaker Lane from 10 am. to 7 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. Residents are limited to five sandbags per person and proof of residency is required.

There was flooding on July 23 after a heavy rainstorm swept through the city, perhaps providing a warning of hazardous weather to come.

The Tropical Storm Watch warns of strong winds between 39 to 57 miles per hour. Additionally, there is a Coastal Flood Watch in Alexandria in effect from Tuesday morning until Tuesday evening.

‪Sandbag distribution today!‬

Posted by Justin Wilson on Monday, August 3, 2020

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Morning Notes

Mount Purrnon Cat Cafe and Wine Bar Opens in Old Town — “Opening now daily (except Tuesdays) at 109 S. Alfred Street. Mount Purrnon Cat Cafe and Wine Bar! Adopt a cat or two, telework, or just have a sandwich, salad or cup of coffee.” [Facebook]

City Advises Preparedness Before Tropical Storm Isaias Hits — “Our staff is working around the clock to ensure our community is ready for whatever Isaias might throw at us.‬ ‪Please stay alert and prepare for this dangerous storm.‬” [Facebook]

Mayor Marks City’s COVID Numbers in Monthly Newsletter — “Four months ago, when I wrote you, 44 of our neighbors had tested positive for COVID-19. Three months ago, 754 had tested positive. Two months ago, 1,974 Alexandrians had tested positive. A month ago, 2,325 Alexandrians had tested positive.” [Constant Contact]

Resident Creates Free Blockbuster Movie Boxes — “Now, the ‘Blockbuster boxes’ can be found in Old Town, Del Ray, and Carlyle. The idea behind them is simple: leave a movie, take a movie.” [WUSA9]

Entrepreneur Creates Charitable Cup Sleeve Business — “Local Alexandria resident Freedom Fonner is challenging people to rethink their relationship with trash, coffee and endangered species.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s Weather — “Partly cloudy in the morning. Thunderstorms developing later in the day. Storms may contain strong gusty winds. High 86F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Full-time Nanny — “The hours for this 5-day work week are great and the schedule is flexible, but Mom was thinking Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8am to 5pm but Mom and Dad are flexible for the right nanny. They are offering a weekly rate between $900-$1,100 per week as well as paid vacation, paid holidays and paid sick days!” [Indeed]

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