At a heated city council meeting last night Virginia Beach residents gathered in mass to protest a perceived lack of budgeting allocation for stormwater priorities.
More than 20 individuals testified about flooding problems at their homes and businesses and urged city council to abandon sports arena and beach widening projects in light of the destruction from Hurricane Matthew.
Mayor Will Sessoms, former Towne Bank executive and self described centrist, went on to assign Global Warming as a cause for the flooding.
While climate change has had measurable effects on average temperatures and moderate sea level rise has occurred, the neighborhoods in question are landlocked areas and not adjacent to any ditch or tributary of local water ways leading to the Atlantic Ocean or Cheapeake Bay. Furthermore, upon contacting public works I discovered much of the sewer and stormwater infrastructure in place at the locations of repeated flood problems were built in the 1960s and fell far short of the stormwater management standards of today. In fact, drainage areas and pipe diameters in place at the Windsor Woods and Aragona Neighborhoods were built before Virginia Beach code existed and the land was part of Princess Anne County.
Sessoms then went on to make another dubious claim in response to a councilman requesting deferment on the issue. Sessoms said “not voting on the budget could send a bad message to the investment community.” A clerk later reiterated that if a CIP budget wasn’t voted on, that it would go through as originally written by city staff anyways.
While Virginia Beach is a fairly low lying city adjacent to water, we rate the claim that Global Warming had significant impact on local flooding or that deferring on a budget vote would harm local investment as ‘Mostly False’.