Belle View and New Alexandria residents gathered in a meeting room in the South County Center Thursday night to learn about alternatives for a flood wall protecting their neighborhoods.
Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland hosted the meeting to discuss new alternatives for flood walls and levees for the flood reduction study conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2008. The areas affected include New Alexandria, Belle View, River View, and the River Towers condominiums. The study was conducted after residents in these neighborhoods experienced severe flooding during Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
The presentation was met with conflicting opinions from residents. Hyland hopes to organize a smaller group of representatives from each community to brainstorm alternative ideas.
“Almost everyone had problems with some of the options,” Hyland said. “It’s a conundrum. A smaller group will give us the opportunity to brainstorm and think outside the box.”
Community concerns about flood walls included potential impacts to the view, Dyke Marsh, and rising sea level.
River Towers resident Jennifer Smith said the meeting gave residents the opportunity to discuss the alternatives.
“I thought it was good because it brought to light a lot of different problems and solutions to try to make for the community,” Smith said.
Smith said she wasn’t sure River Towers needed a flood wall because it’s “high up,” but the idea of a short flood wall close to the building wouldn’t be a bad idea if it means the building would be protected.
Belle View resident Alexia told Patch she was concerned that residents would drop their flood insurance if a flood wall was installed.
“One of the things that happened after Isabel is that we spent a lot of money on flood insurance,” she said. “We’re protecting ourselves and I feel it’s responsible to do so and doesn’t destroy our neighborhood.”
The Huntington flooding bond will not cover this project. Don Demetrius, P.E., PhD, Chief of the Watershed Projects Evaluation Branch of the Stormwater Planning Division said the project would most likely be bidded to a contractor.
“In terms of financing we don’t know for sure how we’d finance it, but a project of this nature would be bidded to a contractor,” Demetrius said. “But first we’d have to have all the permits and have the financing to get it.”