HOMEOWNERS SEEK ANSWERS TO FLOODING WOES
By Selene D. Guerrero, Correspondent Virginia Pilot
Residents of Lynnhaven Colony filed into Dockside Restaurant on Nov. 17, but instead of appetites they brought questions for the public works officials in attendance. The city panel and more than 50 residents gathered to discuss solutions to the neighborhood’s common flooding during high tide and inclement weather.
“The most important and expensive thing you purchase is your home,” Donna Rennick, civic league vice-president, told Phillip Davenport, public works director, before he took the floor.
“We need to know how we can work with you,” Rennick said. “We need answers.”
Phillip Roehrs, water resources engineer, presented a project that officials believe would alleviate most of the flooding, but further study is needed to make certain it will do the job. Lynnhaven Colony is south of Shore Drive, on land that is between the Chesapeake Bay and Long Creek, which is a tributary of the Lynnhaven River. According to a 2005 study, solving the core problems – feeder ditch improvements, flooding on Shore Drive, relieving flooding in low-lying areas – is estimated to cost $50 million, Roehrs said. Roehrs added that he was not prepared to provide the residents a timeline of when the project would begin or be completed.
“We’re at a point where we are thinking of moving,” said Joyce Dunn, a 30-year resident. “After the 2009 nor’easter, the city proposed the same and nothing has been resolved.”
Dunn’s family has made costly adjustments in their home, such as resurfacing their garage and moving their furnace to the attic. In about a year, when sidewalk construction on Shore Drive begins, the city plans to start Phase I of the project by putting in the components needed for development of a flood-control system.
The final plan would provide the community with two tide gates, five water pump stations (adding to the two already in place) and an underground conveyance system. The current outfalls to the Chesapeake Bay and river would be improved with extra collection systems that would provide a better flow.
“There are minor tweaks in the works,” Roehrs said. “But it will take a number of years to build and a number of years to finance.”
Currently less than $3 million a year is set aside for the project. City officials are working to come up with a way to fully finance the project and move forward.
“Even if we are able to come up with a financing plan where we can have all the money today,” Davenport said, “we can’t do all of the work at one time, it has to be phased.”
Construction around the roads and ditches would make it difficult for residents to get in and out of Lynnhaven Colony, he said.
The city plans to put in place a funding and work schedule, and provide residents with a timeline by December 2013. In the meantime, city representatives suggested that homeowners have their homes elevated and seek federal funding with the Federal Emergency Management Agency through the Severe Repetitive Loss program.
“Set an expectation,” resident Vin Melwani told the panel after the presentation. “I’m a homeowner,” Melwani said. “I just would really appreciate it if you could set a realistic expectation.”
- For information about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Severe Repetitive Loss
program, contact Erin Sutton, city emergency planner, at 385-1076.
- For proposed plans and maps of the flood-prone areas off Shore Drive east of the Lesner Bridge, visit http://www.tinyurl.com/ akc9nd6