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Heavy Rain Prompts Severe Flooding in Waverly Hills, Residents Plead for County Help

(Updated at 6 p.m.) The relentless rain soaking Arlington is prompting some serious flooding in the Waverly Hills neighborhood, and now people living there are pressing the county for help.

Tom Reich, a longtime homeowner in the area, told ARLnow that many of his neighbors along the 4000 block of 18th Street N. experienced serious flooding starting two weeks ago, on May 22. He also sent along the above video, showing water reaching high enough to partially submerge some cars parked on 18th Street N. and carry away some recycling bins.

“Many houses had their garages, basements, and cars flooded, sustaining many thousands of dollars in damage,” Reich wrote in an email.

Reich added that similar floods have plagued the neighborhood several times over the years — in 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2013 — and the Waverly Hills Civic Association convened a meeting on May 31 with county officials to address the problem. Reich says many residents urged the county to construct stormwater management improvements, but they didn’t get much in the way of good news on that front.

“The upshot was that the county told us our need is real and acute, but the money is not currently there in the capital budget to execute the projects,” Reich wrote. “Needless to say, the Waverly Hills residents are now in the beginning stage of a campaign to highlight the threat to our homes presented by the county’s failure to act on its own plan.”

Reich points out that a variety of projects designed to manage flooding in the Spout Run watershed, where the neighborhood is located, have gone unfunded in recent years.

The county’s Capital Improvement Plan passed ahead of fiscal year 2013 included funding for four different sewer projects in the area — but Reich says those were never completed and the next CIP, passed by the County Board two years later, includes no mention of them.

County Manager Mark Schwartz’s proposed CIP, which details construction projects running from fiscal year 2019 through 2028, also includes some funding for stormwater management in other parts of the county, but Reich and his neighbors are frustrated that the spending plan doesn’t call for more construction around Waverly Hills.

Staff with the county’s Department of Environmental Services completed preliminary work on the projects Reich referenced after the 2006 flooding, according to county spokeswoman Jennifer Smith. Yet she says that work “identified significant challenges and costs to upgrade the system, as the current system traverses more than a dozen private properties.”

DES spokeswoman Katie O’Brien adding that the county is “still pursuing” those projects, yet noted that “technical challenges and funding remain an issue.”

Schwartz has certainly warned of the county’s fiscal challenges as he’s unveiled this year’s construction plan, thanks to Arlington’s increasing obligations to fund the Metro system and shrinking commercial tax revenues.

However, Smith would caution that “while greater capacity in the storm sewer would alleviate flooding concerns, there is no system which can guarantee elimination of flood risk to flood-prone properties.”

Video via YouTube

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