Investigation: Drainage Disaster

Local News

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Flooding streets are a problem that plague many people in Hampton Roads, but one group of neighbors in Portsmouth believes the city is to blame for their issue.

The ditch behind their homes in Bide-A-Wee Manor, right behind the golf course, is always full of water, and every time it rains they say their street floods.

After months of trying to get the city to fix the problem they turned to 10 On Your Side.

“The smell — it’s horrid!” Tammy Hyde told WAVY.com.  

“Smells like somebody may have died back here in this water, it’s really gross,” said Karen Shockley.

As bad as the smell coming from this ditch is, it is a secondary concern for neighbors in Bide-A-Wee Manor.

“When it’s raining the water stops up in the drains right here… real bad .. then it starts going up in the yards and stuff,” said Thomas Altman.

Neighbors fear they will see a repeat of the terrible flooding they faced during Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The floodwater lingered for days, destroying two of Shockley’s cars and costing Hyde $55,000 in home repairs.

“I can’t afford another repeat of that, I’ll probably just have to say goodbye to my house if that happens again,” Hyde said.

They’ve asked the city repeatedly to clean it out and check the drains. They provided 10 On Your Side with emails between one neighbor and the city manager as proof.

10 On Your Side then asked the city for a copy of all the complaints for service over the past two years.

There were more then 500 and nearly 10 percent came from this one neighborhood.

So 10 On Your Side stepped in to ask the city what they were doing to solve the problem and why it was taking so long. About two days later, Portsmouth’s mayor responded.

“We found the problem, we can fix it,” said Mayor John Rowe.

Rowe said crews walked the entire ditch line and found a broken sewer line.

But why wasn’t the issue resolved back in May, before 10 On Your Side got involved? 

Rowe replied, ” I find it refreshing that 10 On Your Side is there, because it helps us solve problems.”

He says Hampton Roads as a whole has big issues when it comes to flooding streets, because we’re so flat. “It would be really neat to have curb and gutter in every neighborhood with sidewalks, that would mean storm drainage underground you wouldn’t see it.”  Rowe concludes that would cost $30,000 to $50,000 per mile of sidewalk.

He maintains the city does clean ditches and drains on a regular schedule and had recently cleaned the ditch at Bide-A-Wee.  “We’re not dodging problems. We want our city to be the best place to live,” he told 10 On Your Side. 

Sometimes it takes time to pinpoint the cause of a problem, he said, but now that it’s been diagnosed they’ll fix it.

He just can’t say yet when it will be done or how much it will cost.

10 On Your Side will be watching and will continue to ask questions until that sewer line at Bide-A-Wee gets fixed.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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