Virginia Beach residents anxious to hear flooding solutions

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (WAVY) — After two significant floods in two months in southern sections of Virginia Beach, residents are anxious to see action prevent it from happening again. 

More than 100 residents gathered at the Senior Resource Center Thursday evening to hear from city staff and scientists from Dewberry, their consultants studying sea level rise, about wind tide flooding in the southern watershed. 

Dozens of roads were closed when flood waters from Back Bay covered roadways and spilled into homes and businesses in July and September.

Alaurah Moss, a coastal scientist with Dewberry, presented to the group that southern winds pushing waters up into Back Bay is one reason for the flooding. 

However, sea levels have risen and there is also the less natural aquatic vegetation in Back Bay than there was years ago according to Moss. Those are other contributing factors. 

“Very little new information. Everybody that lives out in this area already knows all that,” said Ted Zabbia, a 35-year Pungo resident.  “We’ve been out there for 35 years, this is the first time we’ve had water…up to our house.”

Zabbia thinks that increased development has led to increased flooding. 

“The water has nowhere to go because everything has been so built up,” Zabbia said.

Deputy City Manager Tom Leahy also admits that stormwater runoff is affected by development. 

“Everything is on the table when it comes to potential solutions,” Leahy said. That includes new restrictions on development. 

Ongoing studies will be presented to City Council early next year that include recommendations on how to move forward. 

It will come with a hefty price tag. Dewberry estimates long-term (50+ year) structural fixes to the issue would cost $1-4 billion. 

“There is the engineering feasibility and that’s usually, in this case, the least significant issue,” Leahy said. “The environmental feasibility and the financial feasibility are going to be far more difficult problems in many cases.”

Note: The on-air segment of this story misspelled Deputy City Manager Tom Leahy’s name. We regret the error.   

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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