Huntington Residents Ask Board of Supervisors For Flood Protection
David Coon, Alan Rouf and Pietra Check delivered remarks and petition signatures to the Board of Supervisors during a hearing on Thursday.
Huntington residents asked the County take responsibility in protecting their community from continued flooding along Cameron Run on Thursday.
Huntington Community Association (HCA) secretary David Coon, HCA floodwall coordinator Alan Ruof and resident Pietra Check spoke a combined 11 minutes during the Board of Supervisors budget hearing Thursday afternoon.
Coon kicked off the trio of speakers with details on the signatures gathered from the two-week 'Stop the Floods' campaign.
"We have 1,341 signatures from people who support our request," Coon said. "By our count, 1,193 of them are Fairfax County residents."
Coon also spoke of Huntington's long history for requesting flood protection.
"In April 2009 the Army Corps recommended a solution, which is to build a levee," he said. "In June 2009 the Huntington Community Association submitted a request to the Board asking that the levee be built, but there has not been any progress toward protecting our neighborhood."
The Army Corps decided against building the levee because Huntington's cost-benefit ration wasn't appealing, Ruof said. But in his statement, he said the Army Corps' study "doesn't tell the whole story" in light of historically low interest rates and changing economics in the area. According to Ruof, the Corps didn't anticipate how a blighted Huntington may erode business activity, nor was it aware of the need for affordable housing with the onset of BRAC.
The financial prospect of a flood levee—estimated at $30 million by the Army Corps—has already been paid for in recovery from the floods, Coon said. Each flood has been estimated to cause $10 million worth of property damage, and each time the County's emergency response efforts were estimated to cost between $3 and $6 million.
During her testimony, Check recounted the story of two firemen honored for their bravery during the flood, but also relayed an untold anecdote of a woman who was eight months pregnant.
"It took her husband and four others to lift her from her back yard up to an adjoining street that was on higher ground," Check said. "Then she and her husband walked a mile to a friend’s house. The situation sent her into labor and her baby was born a month premature."
All three residents had the same request. They wanted the Board to find a solution to the problem of the flooding in Huntington.
"Our focus is having the Board finding a solution," Rouf said after the hearing. "We know we need a levee, and we know things as they are must not continue."
Although the hope is for the $30 million to come via a stormwater bond referendum, Ruof said if that fails, the county is still responsible to act.
"A stormwater bond that names Huntington as something that will be fixed is excellent, if it passes. If it doesn't pass, it doesn't change the County's responsiblity to correct the problem that has generated revenue year after year, decade after decade, from the very things that caused flooding in Huntington: development in 42 square miles of Cameron Run, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge / Route 1 interchange improvements, building Metro rail in the floodplain. Those are things that confer untold advantages to the County in term of revenue. And there is enough revenue from those—when you look back and forward—to come up with $30 million to protect the neighborhood that bears the burden of those things," Ruof said.
Two hundred residents were evacuated as a result of last September's flooding, but the group garnered over one thousand signatures of support. Ruof said the support from the entire Huntington community is important in the endeavor and believes many people see it as an issue of "right and wrong." But he also thinks the whole greater Huntington community would benefit from flood protection—not just the residents of Arlington Terrace and Fenwick Drive.
"If this situation continues, it degrades the neighborhood overtime. Whether you live in the floodplain, where your problem is more severe, or outside of the floodplain, you're still interested in a change in conditions because it affects how you live, what you see, your property values [and] your quality of life," Ruof said. "And those are also your neighbors."
The Board took no action following the testimony by Huntington residents.