Suffolk responds after 10 On Your Side investigation into neighbor complaints of stormwater runoff


SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — We have a 10 on Your Side success story on a neighborhood impacted by flooding water and drainage problems.

If you are impacted by stormwater runoff, listen up.  

Last Wednesday, 10 On Your Side reported on a Suffolk neighborhood where residents claimed the stormwater from a new housing development is impacting their quality of life. 

10 On Your Side went to the city with the complaints — and now, there are positive developments. 

Since we started our investigation, on three different occasions, heavy rains meant big problems for residents around Pembroke Lane in the Oakland neighborhood along Godwin Boulevard in Suffolk’s Chuckatuck Borough.  

“This is basically stormwater coming from the new development area,” said resident Wesley Lane as he stood in his yard with water flooding into his boots.  

He and his neighbors are blaming Suffolk’s new 129-home Village Pointe community and the storm water retention pond on the property.

“I don’t think it is a good idea. I think they should have come up with another plan,” Lane added.

Suffolk’s approved plan was to shoot the stormwater runoff from the retention pond downhill through a pipe that comes out where another pipe takes the runoff under Godwin Boulevard.  

The torrent water then bursts through into an open ditch, which the city quickly dug following complaints. The neighbors consider the ditch inadequate to handle the massive amount of water created from runoff during big rain events.

Lane stood at the shallow ditch which now circles his property.

“This is the ditch they dug to fix the problem, but the problem got worse. If they had run underground pipe, we wouldn’t see this water, but they decided to dig a ditch and leave it open,” he said.

Following our interview about the flooding issues with Suffolk City Manager Albert Moor, we urged him to meet with Lane, which he did on July 22. 

At that meeting, Lane said there was some progress.

“They said they were going to take the ditch away, but they didn’t exactly say what they were going to do after that… I believe they are going to do underground pipe … because he did say they were going to take the ditch away,” he said. 

Moor would only promise in his email to us they would schedule a contractor to perform maintenance on the ditch and remove silt.

The city also insists drainage has naturally occurred on the property, but neighbors vehemently disagree, saying the standing water started happening after construction at Village Pointe.

“We are coming out, we are investigating,” is what outspoken neighbor Pheanie Chapman says the city tells her when she complains.

“We are going to this and then they don’t do jack,” she said.

Chapman is blasting Suffolk city officials for failing to fix the eroding  Pembroke Lane caused by the constant flooding waters in the Pembroke Lane ditch.

“It’s clear what they should do… clean out this ditch and put some pipe down and let it run down the road.” 

Following our investigation, the city did come out with lots of asphalt, and made seven major repairs to the road. The improvements also included shoring up the road where it had sunk. 

Moor emailed us the city is “installing a temporary pipe along Pembroke Lane.” 

No further details were provided about the timing of the pipe installation. 

We pointed out to Chapman the city deserves some credit for this effort.

“Well, yes. A little. You know you need to do it right the first time.” Chapman said.

We also interviewed Suffolk activist Kelly Hengler, who came out and took her own video.

“Look A+B=C, right? So, if you are sending water with high volume from where it’s originating through a pipe into an open ditch, it’s going to jump the ditch. It’s not going to be adequate,” Hengler said.

Hengler concentrates her city lobbying efforts on inadequate drainage in at-risk neighborhoods.

“It’s not an anti-growth message issue. It’s a common-sense message. You have people living here, and they should not have to face flooding with no accountability from the city,” Hengler said.

Chapman told us 10 On Your Side has helped get the ball rolling.

“10 On Your Side helped us, yes. If it had not been for them, nothing would have been done… I have called, and nothing was done. 10 In Your Side comes out here and two or three days got the whole City of Suffolk out here,” she said.

For now, Chapman seems a bit more satisfied with the city.

“I guess what I’m going to do is give them a month, and I’m going to see what else is going to happen,” she said. 

We will update this story in one month.  

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