VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - When Bob Jennings thinks back to five years ago, a flood of rain-soaked memories washes over him.
"It looked like I lived in a lake. All of the houses were sticking up out of the water," Jennings recalls. "Having to bail water at 2:00 in the morning, for two hours, out of my house into the kitchen sink."
Hurricane Matthew dumped more than a foot of rain on parts of Virginia Beach in 2016. Neighborhoods like Windsor Woods, looked more like lakes.
"You could stand in the middle of our street, in front of my house, and you would be up to your chest in water," Jennings remembers.
He, like many others, lost everything on the first floor of his home.
"It was a wake up call."
Mayor Bobby Dyer who believes the solution is the proposed Virginia Beach Flood Protection Program. On this November's ballot, it would hike property taxes in the city to pay for dozens of flood fixes. There is a public meeting to allow citizens to learn more about the proposal scheduled for Thursday, September 30, at Building 19 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. It starts at 6:00 p.m. Three other meetings are scheduled for October.
- Monday, Oct. 4, 12 noon, Virtual - click here to join
- Thursday, Oct. 7, 6:30 p.m., Kempsville Recreation Center, 800 Monmouth Lane (in person)
- Monday, Oct. 25, 5:30 p.m., Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library, 4100 Virginia Beach Blvd. (in person)
In Windsor Woods, improvements would include new flood barriers, pump stations, and the conversion of the Bow Creek Golf Course into a park with storm water storage. That's just one of six focus areas across Virginia Beach in the first phase of the program, stretching from Shore Drive to Linkhorn Bay, to the Oceanfront. Click here to learn about all projects in phase one.
"It's an investment," Mayor Dyer believes. "It's an investment in our future. It's an investment in our quality of life."
The median home assessment value in the city is approximately $267,600. If voters give the plan the OK, that breaks down to roughly $10 to $14 more each month in property taxes. Annually, that adds up to about $115 to $171.
Dyer underscored his desire to speed up the city's flood protection efforts to News 3 anchor Blaine Stewart during an interview at the Municipal Center.
"Just think about what would happen if we didn't do this," Dyer stressed. "We can wind up losing businesses. "We can wind up losing people and jeopardize our military. That ain't worth it."
Back in Windsor Woods, Bob Jennings agrees.
"We have to get this done. And we have to get it done now," he says. "Making a decision now is investing in all of our futures and safety."