By Missy Schrott | [email protected]
On the afternoon of Sept. 10, flash flooding at a rate as high as 3 inches in 10 minutes overwhelmed the city’s infrastructure for the third time in three months, resulting in flooding throughout the city.
Alexandria residents, particularly those in hard-hit neighborhoods, such as Del Ray and Parkfairfax, are expressing increasing frustration with the city. Many are particularly irked by the frequent response they’re getting from city staff and officials: that the recent rain events have had a 1% chance of occurring – despite four “100-year” events happening in the last 14 months – and that the city’s storm system is simply not equipped to handle these flash floods.
At City Council’s public hearing on Saturday, Yon Lambert, director of Transportation and Environmental Services, briefly spoke to council about the recent flooding. Council will have a more thorough work session dedicated to flood mitigation at its Sept. 22 legislative meeting.
In response to the four flash flooding events that have occurred in Alexandria in the last 14 months, the city has experienced an increase in the number of calls for service, Lambert said. After the July 23 flash flood, the city had more than 200 requests for service. As of Saturday, the city had already received more than 150 requests for service related to the Sept. 10 flooding.
Following the Sept. 10 flooding, Lambert said the city has been providing technical assistance in affected neighborhoods by sending engineers and inspectors to conduct investigations of the stormwater system in order to identify problems.
There are also several large-scale infrastructure improvement projects planned in the city’s 10-year Capital Improvement Program to address flooding. Council is slated to discuss acceleration of these projects at the flooding work session Sept. 22, as well as other possible mitigation measures, according to Lambert.
Councilor Amy Jackson urged city staff and her fellow councilors to act quickly.
“If there’s anything we can do right now before the next 100-year rain comes next week, we need to get on top of it now and show the city residents that the city is behind them,” Jackson said.