New study says flooding will get worse in Norfolk

Posted at 7:10 PM, Jul 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-30 19:12:49-04

Norfolk, Va. - Flooding is nothing new in the City of Norfolk.

"We have a beautiful river in front of our house with idiots trying to drive down the river," said Mary Lou Ocheltree, a longtime resident of Norfolk who has seen plenty of flooding over the years.

But flooding in the city could get worse if sea level rise continues at a faster pace.

According to a report by NOAA, Norfolk was just named one of the top 10 cities in the United States that has seen an increase in nuisance flooding, which causes inconveniences to the public, like frequent road closures, overwhelmed storm drains and compromised infrastructure.

"It's a huge nuisance for everybody who lives in this small area.  Between Downtown and Ghent, getting from one place to another, you have to check the weather reports and make sure you have all that taken care of before you try.  Sometimes when it’s not raining, it can flood pretty bad," said Tyrone Bliss, whose car was totaled when he went through a flooded street in Norfolk.

The report says that over the past 60 years, the number of days that Norfolk sees nuisance flooding has increased 325 percent.  And over the last 7 years, the city has seen an average of about seven nuisance flood days a year - not just from thunderstorms but also from high tides.

NewsChannel 3 spoke to Scott Smith, operations engineer with the City of Norfolk. He says the city is being proactive to come up with ways to fix some of the flooding, from flood walls and pumps to natural solutions.  But finding the money to do these projects is a challenge.  Smith says the city is working to receive grants to fund some of the work.