Residents of Richmond’s Southside say flooding has become an acute problem in their neighborhood.
At a town hall Wednesday night, residents complained about a lack of functioning drainage and standing water that lasts for days. The problem has been made worse by higher than average rainfall over the last few years.
Bennie Gates, who lives off of Midlothian Turnpike, said constant flooding at his home has drawn wild animals and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
“Whether it’s minimal or moderate rainfall, it floods your entire front yard and backyard,” Gates said. “It makes it where some people can’t get out of their neighborhood.”
Ninth District City Councilman Michael Jones told residents that he is planning to introduce a resolution asking for a study of the flooding and how much it would cost to fix the stormwater system in Southside.
Jones said he wants the city to start laying the foundation for addressing the inequities in urban infrastructure throughout the city.
“We want to know: How do we fix Southside,” he said. “Whatever it is, let's figure it out, quantify it and let’s go get it.”
Representatives from Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) also attended the town hall to listen to residents’ concerns. Calvin Farr, director of DPU, said some of the flooding issues have been caused by maintenance backlog of more than 2,000 complaints. A lack of regular maintenance can lead to drains and ditches getting clogged by debris.
Some neighborhoods in Southside, particularly the suburban areas annexed from Chesterfield in 1970, are completely lacking in stormwater infrastructure. When it comes to those neighborhoods, Farr said they will require larger investments.
DPU has 24 stormwater infrastructure improvement projects planned this year, half of them in Southside.
“We’re trying to address all of the major issues,” Farr said. “You’ve got to prioritize, because we don’t necessarily have all the money in the world, but the biggest issues seem to be in Southside.”
*A previous version of this story sited the Dept. of Public Works instead of the Dept. of Public Utilities.