Norfolk city leaders hold community meeting to discuss flooding mitigation


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The Mermaid City has a long history of flooding and on Wednesday, Norfolk leaders and the community came together to talk about it.

It comes after the city started the “Adopt-a-Drain” pilot program in January to encourage residents to help stop flooding before it can start.    

City councilwoman Angelia Graves opened the meeting with a pretty startling statistic saying 29 percent of Norfolk falls under the FEMA high-risk flood zone category. 

With heavy rainfall increasing, city leaders said the current storm water system is overdue for an upgrade.

It’s a sight that’s all too familiar for many residents in Norfolk — water filling the streets and coming dangerously close to homes. 

“I do worry about it because I hope to pass it (my home) on to my children,” said Leon Bunch, a Broadcreek resident. 

The city has installed pump stations and tide valves and it’s also completed a sand replenishment project in Ocean View but some areas like The Hague continue to be a problem. 

“The trouble is a 10 year storm has now become a six year storm,” said Richard Broad, Director of Public Works.

The city is considering several options from adding more tide valves and pump stations to building surge barriers — but the latter option has a high price tag.

“We’re working hard to make sure how to best address those and to accommodate where the water wants to go while still having Norfolk a viable and resilient community,” said Jim Redick, Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response.

In the meantime, city ordinances require every new home built in a flood zone to be three feet above the ground level. 

For those who live in a flood zone, the city wants you to know there are steps you can take to reduce your risk and your flood insurance premium. Homeowners can add flood vents to the crawl space, elevate mechanical and electrical equipment, and if you have a basement, fill that space. 

“Everyone really has a part and it’s going to take us a while but only by working together will we be able to establish this way of living with the water,” Redick said.

Regular homeowner’s insurance does not cover flooding. Flood insurance must be purchased separately. There is also a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance coverage.

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