Norfolk to raise downtown seawall in $18M project


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A total of $18 million will be spent over the next several years to raise the seawall in Downtown Norfolk.

The city is raising the wall in order to meet requirements with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). The wall will be raised from 11 feet to around 15 feet in height.

John M. White is the Storm Water Engineer for City of Norfolk. He says the money would come from the stormwater fund. 

White recalls Hurricane Isabel in September 2003, as the worst flooding in downtown Norfolk to date. Lives were lost, power was out for weeks, and in places, the coastlines of Virginia and North Carolina were changed forever.

“A storm to meet all other storms,” said White. “It caused substantial damage to the city.”

To prevent any such flooding, over the next five years, Norfolk is building up the storm wall near Nauticus and Waterside Drive. 

“[The pump station] is a key piece to the downtown business district,” said White. “It has capabilities to pump out about 100 thousand gallons of water.” 

Together, the pump station and efforts to build up this wall will make sure water stays in its place, according to White, avoiding another round of flooding like Hurricane Isabel. 

“We have to manage our risks and this is one way of managing that risk.”

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