This spring, Arlington County began buying up properties in the Waverly Hills area to combat flooding.
Already, despite some concerns about how the program would work, three residents have agreed to sell their homes. The county will tear them down and replant the land so water has a place to flow during large rain storms.
All seven Arlington County Board candidates — six of whom are vying for the support of the local Democratic party this primary — say the county needs to change its land-use policies and get more people on board with adding stormwater infrastructure in their backyards, in order to make neighborhoods more resilient to a predicted increase in flooding.
“The July 2018 and 2019 floods in particular really drove this home for us — we had some real life-safety issues pertaining to flooding,” Susan Cunningham said in a forum hosted by nonprofit advocacy group EcoAction Arlington last week.
“[It] highlighted that, not only because of climate change but really because of lack of long-range planning, we have very outdated stormwater management systems that we don’t have a budget to improve,” she continued. “We do have a lot of catch up to do.”
Since the floods, Arlington County has taken steps to manage stormwater beyond buying homes for flood relief.
Starting next year, Arlington will fund its stormwater management plan with a stormwater utility fee. The county will charge property owners a rate based on how much of their property is covered in hard surfaces, like roofs and driveways. (Currently, it is funded by a tax based on property assessments.)
Other changes include new regulations requiring single-family home construction projects to retain more water and some $90 million in bond referenda from 2020 and 2022 for stormwater projects.
Developers of single-family homes report higher construction costs due to retention regulations. Bonds and the new stormwater utility fee, meanwhile, could spell higher taxes for residents.
So, in this race, some candidates say the county should examine how its own policies encourage flooding before requiring more of residents.
Cunningham and Natalie Roy, both of whom have opposed the recently adopted Missing Middle zoning changes, that starts with reducing the allowable buildable area that homes can occupy on a lot.
“This is something that we should’ve done 10 years ago and definitely something we should have done before approving the misguided [Missing Middle] plan,” Roy said.
Perennial independent candidate Audrey Clement said she would call for the repeal of Missing Middle, linking the new policy to tree loss and thus, increased flooding.
She said she would also end a practice among developers to subdivide lots to circumvent state environmental ordinances preventing construction near protected land along Arlington streams called “resource protection areas,” or RPAs.
“It was by this sleight of hand that the county permitted a tear-down McMansion in a North Arlington RPA in 2018 but also the destruction of a 100-foot state champion redwood on the same lot,” she said.
The northbound lanes of the GW Parkway are blocked near Potomac Overlook Regional Park in Arlington due to a protest.
Climate protesters associated with the group Declare Emergency blocked the busy commuter route shortly before 8:45 a.m.
U.S. Park Police officers are on the scene.
Northbound traffic on the Parkway is backed up to Spout Run.
Update at 9:25 a.m. — Traffic is starting to move again, according to WTOP and USPP.
Traffic update: Road closures on the George Washington Memorial Parkway have reopened. https://t.co/CNWBkhHXu2
— USPPNEWS (@usparkpolicepio) April 26, 2023
Declare Emergency supporters block traffic because this is an emergency, we all need to act like it!#a22network #ClimateEmergency #ClimateAction #declareemergency pic.twitter.com/wXEglGiu36
— Declare Emergency (@DecEmergency) April 26, 2023
#DeclareEmergency supporters step out onto the #gwparkway to demand climate action. This is nonviolent #civildisobedience, this is done out of love for our fellow humans and our collective future. #A22Network #stopwillow #ClimateAction pic.twitter.com/gwqOsheFwN
— Declare Emergency (@DecEmergency) April 26, 2023
Police are on scene with Declare Emergency protestors on the #gwparkway
We disrupt the status quo for a livable future. #A22Network #declareemergency #climateaction #civildisobedience pic.twitter.com/hM3zvtRloJ
— Declare Emergency (@DecEmergency) April 26, 2023
U.S. Park Police are dealing with a large group of protesters who are blocking traffic on the George Washington Parkway. #VATraffic @ARLnowDOTcom https://t.co/cLchLHsvMP
— Alan Henney (@alanhenney) April 26, 2023
LOCATION: NB George Washington Parkway / Spout Run Parkway
INCIDENT: Police Department Activity
IMPACT: Traffic is blocked on the George Washington Parkway from Spout Run Parkway to Chain Bridge. Seek Alternate routes. pic.twitter.com/JXpMk2Rf5M
— Arlington Alert (@ArlingtonAlert) April 26, 2023
Hat tip to Alan Henney. Map via Google Maps.
(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) Tree canopy in Arlington County is lower than it was in 2016, according to a new privately-funded study paid for local residents.
The residents, who are involved in Arlington County Civic Federation, Arlington Tree Action Group and EcoAction Arlington, funded the study to how much tree canopy declined since the last county study in 2017.
Based on imaging from 2021, a consultant found that trees cover 33% of land — excluding the Pentagon and Reagan National Airport — down from 41% on the same land six years ago. Coverage ranges by civic association, from 14% in Crystal City to 66% in the county’s northernmost neighborhood of Arlingwood, compared to 26% and 75%, respectively, in 2011.
“It’s really eye-opening,” one of the residents behind the study, Mary Glass, tells ARLnow. “Ideally, the county would have had this, but they didn’t.”
The tree lovers commissioned the study out of frustration with the county for not doing so before beginning work on a Forestry Natural Resource Plan (FNRP).
This updates a 2004 Urban Forest Master Plan and a 2010 Natural Resources Management Plan in one document to address climate change, population growth and threats such as diseases and invasive species, says Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Jerry Solomon. It has an eye toward racial equity and environmental justice, to make sure all residents benefit physically and mentally from Arlington’s natural resources.
Combining the plans “allows us to consider Arlington’s ecosystem holistically and craft a more comprehensive set of recommendations for conservation and resource management in the future,” Solomon said.
During this process, and during the Missing Middle housing discussions that concluded with zoning updates earlier this month, preserving trees from redevelopment was mentioned as a top priority for many residents. (The zoning changes approved by the County Board specifies requirements for shade trees on properties redeveloped with Missing Middle housing.)
To help, volunteers from Marymount University and EcoAction Arlington have been planting trees in the hotter, less leafy parts of Arlington.
Now, Glass says, she hopes people will use the new data when the next Forestry Natural Resource Plan draft is published and ready for community input.
“This information is going to be right there so when the next draft comes out, in the next month or so, we’ll be able to make specific comments and recommendations based on the information we have,” Glass said.
The draft could be ready for community feedback this spring or early summer, Solomon said. The parks department spokesperson added that staff have seen the new study and “are excited about the community’s enthusiasm for our urban forests.”
However, she added, “we have not seen the underlying data and don’t have a full understanding of the methodology. As a result, we cannot speak to any discrepancies without adequately assessing it for accuracy, margin of error, or underlying assumptions.”
The department said it felt comfortable starting the plan update based on the overall downward trends in the previous tree canopy studies. Solomon said the current draft acknowledges and has recommendations for reversing the decline in tree canopy.
Despite marginal fluctuations, from a high of 43% in 2008 to a low of 40% in 2011 and a slight uptick to 41% in 2017, the county says tree coverage in parks is offsetting declining tree coverage on residential properties.
“Knowing this, we decided to prioritize the update of the FNRP in order to identify strategies to reverse that trend and address other environmental challenges sooner rather than later,” she said. Read More
(Updated at 1 p.m. on 03/21/23) Arlington County is looking to buy its first home for flood prevention.
The county has entered an agreement to buy the home at 4437 18th Street N. in the Waverly Hills neighborhood for $969,200, according to a staff report to the Arlington County Board.
The Board is set to review and approve the agreement during its meeting on Saturday.
The single-family home and detached garage is located in the Spout Run watershed, which has been hit hard by recent flooding events, such as the floods seen in July 2019. It will be torn down and the property will be replanted to serve as “overland relief,” at a cost of around $350,000.
Overland relief is a safe flowpath for flood waters to the nearest stream or storm drain during a large storm event. (An earlier version of this story incorrectly explained overland relief.)
Arlington County is looking to step up its mitigation efforts in response to severe weather events. While the 2019 flood has been described as a “100-year flood” — or a flood that has a 1% chance of happening each year — some research suggests these may occur more frequently due to rising sea levels and more frequent and severe storms, which are linked to climate change.
As part of this effort, last year county staff sent letters of interest to 38 properties in parts of the Waverly Hills and Cherrydale neighborhoods where overland relief is “an essential element” to manage extreme flooding, the report says. Funding for this voluntary property acquisition program was included in the adopted one-year 2022 capital improvement plan.
“The County will pursue acquisitions of properties whose owners are willing to sell to the County, and whose properties would allow for greater access to existing stormwater infrastructure for potential future upgrades, provide overland relief during periods of intense rainfall,and other future engineering solutions,” it says.
“Several” owners have indicated interest in selling to the county, the report added.
ARLnow last reported that there is some interest among residents in selling, while a number of others say that uprooting their families would come at too high a cost.
We were also told several had unanswered questions about the process and how these properties will be managed. One concern is that a piecemeal acquisition process would result in a “checkerboard” of homes and blighted-looking properties.
That “checkerboard” could result in “community fragmentation, difficulty with providing municipal services, and inability to restore full floodplain functionality,” and is one reason local governments may have a hard time getting enough community support for buyouts, according to a Congressional Research Service report.
Other reasons include the potential impacts on property values and housing stock and fears of displacement, it says.
Still, people are more likely to be interested in selling after a major flooding event.
“Buyouts are often a politically unpopular option unless there is a particularly catastrophic event that changes people’s willingness to move and creates unified state and local support for relocation,” the report noted.
Other research shows that property buyouts are one of the most effective tools at the disposal of local governments to combat frequent flooding.
“At their best, they provide a permanent solution,” according to Pew Research. “Effective buyouts prevent future damage, make people safer, and ideally protect entire neighborhoods or communities. Moreover, once bought-out properties become natural open space, they can provide an added benefit of absorbing additional stormwater, further reducing flooding and helping to conserve habitats.”
The most scorching parts of Arlington are along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and Reagan National Airport, according to a new study.
On a hot day last July, volunteers and Marymount University research students and staff recorded temperatures at morning, afternoon and evening throughout the county as part of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges’ Heat Watch Campaign. Residents across the Commonwealth also contributed to the statewide data collection effort.
That data has since been compiled into heat maps, released this week, that cover more than 300 square miles of Virginia. Environmentalists say this information is helpful for targeting solutions to heat: planting more trees where possible and, where that is not possible, adding amenities like community gardens and planted walls.
Although Arlington County is compact, temperatures varied by up to 7 degrees depending on location. The Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, for example, recorded a temperature of 94.8 degrees at 3 p.m., and less than two miles away, neighborhoods near the Potomac Overlook Regional Park clocked in at 87.8 degrees.
Marymount University assistant biology professor Susan Agolini says highly populated areas like Ballston and Clarendon are often hotter because concrete and asphalt absorb heat and radiate it back into the environment, while the North Arlington neighborhoods closest to the Potomac River have trees and gardens to soak up that sunshine.
“I do not think there were any surprises here with regard to what areas were hotter,” Agolini said. “We know that locations with a lot of pavement and cement are going to be hotter than areas with a lot of trees and green space. The question is what do we do about that?”
Agolini says she will bring this data to conversations with county officials about urban planning and cooling solutions, such as planting trees and incentivizing the creation of community gardens around buildings and on their rooftops.
For example, 23% of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association had tree canopy compared to 74% of the Bellevue Forest Civic Association, according to the most recent county tree canopy data, from 2016.
“I find it really compelling that the benefits of and need for increased space for urban agriculture could actually serve multiple purposes,” Agolini said. “It would not only provide Arlington residents with the physical and mental health benefits of growing their own food, but it could also have the added benefit of decreasing the impact of heat disparities throughout the county.”
Elenor Hodges — the executive director of the community organization promoting environmental stewardship, EcoAction Arlington — helped collect temperature data last summer. She says the data provide “another way of looking at a known issue.”
And the solution — more trees and plantings — has benefits that bleed into other environmental and public health goals, she said.
“If you’re building in an area and you can think about having it be as green and plant-based green as possible then that makes the space cooler,” she said. “You can be happier in this space, healthier, and it helps with carbon and it reduces stormwater runoff.”
Hodges said EcoAction Arlington would like to see this data inform developments currently going through the county review processes so that the projects can reduce, rather than contribute to, Arlington’s heat zones.
This includes planting walls of plants, blending indoor and outdoor spaces, and adding trees and plantings to grass-covered parks, as grass doesn’t absorb as much heat.
The organization, which oversees a county program that plants trees on private property through developer contributions, will be launching a campaign to encourage planting in neighborhoods with less tree canopy that also have higher rates of poverty and substantial non-white populations.
For example, tree canopy levels are under 30% in the Arlington View, Buckingham and Green Valley neighborhoods, she said.
“Those are neighborhoods we are going to be looking at more carefully,” Hodges said.
County Prepping New Tree Study — “Arlington leaders may take their next crack at guesstimating the number of trees in the county – a topic not without political as well as environmental ramifications – early in 2023, if all goes according to plan… estimating the cost at $100,000 to $150,000.” [Sun Gazette]
New Name for GMU Arlington Campus — “George Mason University announced today that its Arlington Campus will be renamed Mason Square as the new centerpiece of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor for multi-disciplinary talent and business development, as well as a civic and cultural destination. Also being announced is Fuse at Mason Square, the name of the new technology-forward building that is the heart of Mason’s commitment to growing Northern Virginia’s next-generation workforce. A groundbreaking ceremony for Fuse at Mason Square will take place April 6.” [Press Release]
FBI Warns of ‘Sextortion’ of Boys — “The FBI Washington Field Office is warning parents and caregivers about an increase in incidents involving sextortion of young children. The FBI is receiving an increasing number of reports of adults posing as young girls coercing young boys through social media to produce sexual images and videos and then extorting money from them.” [FBI]
Nature Center Staffing Slowly Returning — “Don’t expect hours of operation at Arlington’s two county-government natures centers to return to pre-pandemic levels in the coming year, or maybe ever, but local leaders say that doesn’t mean nature programs won’t have priority in coming years… [the] hope for the coming year was to use funding for temporary workers to increase hours at the nature center, including perhaps evening hours.” [Sun Gazette]
Church Wins Climate Award — “Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ’s commitment to fighting climate change over the past 15 years landed it a top award in the 2022 Cool Congregations Challenge. Rock Spring, on Little Falls Road in Arlington, was named the 2022 winner of the Energy Saver category in the challenge, sponsored by Interfaith Power & Light, a nonprofit group that seeks to motivate people of faith to take steps to address climate change.” [Patch]
Alexandria Schools Propose SRO Extension — “Alexandria City Public Schools is requesting an extension of its controversial school resource officer (SRO) program through the end of the 2022-2023 school year. School Board Chair Meagan Alderton says that the extension is part of the reimagining of the $800,000 program.” [ALXnow]
It’s Friday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 58 and low of 47. Sunrise at 7:05 am and sunset at 7:26 pm. [Weather.gov]
Arrests in Cold Case Murder — Updated at 7:50 a.m. — “The Arlington County Police Department’s Cold Case Unit is announcing James Christopher Johnson, 59, of Alexandria, Va, and Bobby Joe Leonard, 53, have been charged in relation to the 1998 homicide of Andrea Cincotta in the Colonial Village neighborhood. Mr. Johnson is being held without bond at the Arlington County Detention Center and Mr. Leonard is being held on unrelated charges at Wallens Ridge State Prison. On August 21, 1998, 52-year-old Andrea Cincotta was found dead inside the bedroom of the apartment she shared with Mr. Johnson in the 1700 block of N. Rhodes Street.” [Washington Post, ACPD]
Cool Reception for Climate Emergency Push — “A proposal by two local environmental groups that the Arlington County government declare a ‘climate-change emergency’ received the back of the hand, albeit politely delivered, from County Board members on Nov. 13… ‘We hear you… but understand that we are not able to declare an emergency that gives the local government broader power,’ [said] County Board member Christian Dorsey.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Friday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 47. Northwest wind 11 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Sunrise at 6:56 a.m. and sunset at 4:51 p.m. Increasing clouds Saturday, with a high near 49. A slight chance of showers after 1 p.m. Sunday, but otherwise mostly cloudy with a high near 55. [Weather.gov]
Photo courtesy Tom Mockler/Twitter
In our area it seems like every September there’s a stretch of perfect late-summer or early-fall weather, with sunny skies and comfortable temperatures.
And it appears we have just entered such a stretch.
The ten-day forecast currently includes no rain, and a range of high temperatures between 75-84 degrees. Granted, such stretches are often too fleeting, but — it sure is nice while it lasts.
Today’s kickoff of the D.C. area’s Nice September Stretch follows an extended period of awful weather. Deluges of rain, storms that knock out power, and borderline unbearable combinations of heat and humidity in between. It felt like it was never going to end.
With our weather dreams coming true, albeit temporarily, we were wondering just how excited locals were about it. Beyond extended stretches of nice weather being a bit… well, boring… there’s also a thought given to the need to water plants, wash the car, etc. if it stays dry for too long.
And, just how much do locals care about the weather after all? If we really prioritized warm temperatures and sunny skies to go along with the expensive real estate, wouldn’t more of us be packing up and moving to Southern California?
Given the national picture — destruction caused by Hurricane Ida and deadly floods and devastating wildfires — we should be counting our weather blessings. This is not to minimize the suffering of those recently affected by severe weather, which top scientists say is being made worse by climate change.
But sticking to our local reality here in Arlington, this morning we’re wondering just how jazzed everyone is for our run of September weather perfection.
A North Arlington neighborhood is on alert after someone deflated tires on at least five SUVs in the name of environmental justice.
The incident happened after midnight on Friday, June 18, along the 4600 block of 37th Street N. in the Old Glebe neighborhood.
“At approximately 12:45 a.m. on June 18, police were dispatched to the report of a vehicle tampering,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim’s two vehicles, which were parked in their driveway, had air pressure released from the rear driver side tire.”
“Officers canvassed the area and located three additional vehicles with tampered tire pressure,” Savage continued. “A flyer, allegedly left by the ‘Climate Liberation Front,’ was located on the windshield of the involved vehicles. The investigation is ongoing.”
As mentioned on a Nextdoor thread about the tire deflations, the note left on the vehicles (below) was almost identical to that left on SUVs in Sweden in 2007.
We have deflated one or several tyres of your SUV. Don’t take it personally. It’s your car we don’t like. You are certainly aware of the large amount of fuel it consumes. so we don’t have to enlighten you about that. But either you are ignorant of, or you don’t care about the fact that all the gas you consume by driving around in your SUV in the streets of the city has devastating consequences for others.
Scientists are entirely sure that we are very close to pushing climate change over a threshold, into a phase where it will be totally out of control and cause irreversible damage.
When the glaciers melt, people’s source of water disappear. When the deserts spread. agricultural fields become uncultivable. When the sea level rises, homes are inundated. Result: billions of refugees, countless deaths. It’s already estimated that 150,000 people die every year due to the effects of climate change, according to the WHO. As an affluent American you will survive longer then [sic] most. Those most vulnerable, and already worst afflicted by the global warming caused by Northern affluence, are the people of poor countries. In the end, however. climate chaos will affect us all, poor people as well as rich.
This does not have to happen if we impose a radical cut on carbon emissions. Now. Not tomorrow. That’s why we have disarmed your SUV by deflating the tires. Since you live in a city with a functioning and accessible public transportation system you will have no problem going where you want without your SUV.
Climate Liberation Front
@FrontClimate on Twitter
A tweet from the Twitter account of the “Climate Liberation Front,” sent before the tire deflation spree, said the action was “only the beginning.”
“Some new wannabe eco-terror bullsh–,” said a tipster who contacted ARLnow.
Savage said the police department has so far had no other reports of similar incidents. The department encourages anyone whose vehicle has been tampered with to call the Arlington non-emergency line at 703-558-2222 or to file a police report online.
The tire deflations attracted more than two dozen comments on Nextdoor. Some questioned the wisdom of inconveniencing residents as a method of fighting climate change.
“Do they think you’ll just wake up with flat tires and buy a Prius?” one person asked.
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(Updated 9:30 p.m.) Ballston-based Fluence is ramping up its efforts to tackle climate change with energy storage systems for renewable energy.
The energy storage company was founded three years ago this month as the joint venture of Berlin-based Siemens and Arlington-based Fortune 500 company, AES Corp. It enjoyed torrid growth over the course of 2020: About 100 staff came on, including a new CEO, and it acquired a company in October.
This year is off to a great start, too, with a pledge of $125 million in investment from the Qatar Investment Authority.
“We have been experiencing an enormous growth since the inception of the company,” said Vice President of Strategy Marek Wolek.
Fluence develops batteries that store energy from wind and solar. Since 2018, Fluence had quadrupled the amount of energy storage it has deployed or is working on, from 600 megawatts to 2,400 megawatts. It has deployed or been awarded contracts for storage in 24 countries.
The work is “a little bit more complicated” than just batteries, however, Wolek said. It also makes sure the supply of natural, renewable energy can be converted into enough electricity to meet demands, without leading to surges in electricity or deficits for customers.
“That’s extremely valuable, and makes the whole energy grid stable,” Wolek said.
But to keep up in a rapidly innovating market, the company started seeking out investing partners about six months ago, he said.
“How we effectively create a grid of future requires investments,” he said. “The mark is moving very fast: We have to make sure the technology is easier and faster, and efficient to use, for our customers.”
With the $125 million from Qatar Investment Authority, a founding member of the One Planet Sovereign Wealth Fund Initiative, which invests government funds into climate change solutions. Fluence will be investing in hardware and software, as well as staff to further develop the battery technology, he said.
In a statement, CEO Manuel Perez Dubuc said tackling climate change requires both technology and investment worldwide.
“We see energy storage as the linchpin of a decarbonized grid and adding QIA to our international shareholder base will allow Fluence to innovate even faster and address the enormous global market for large-scale battery-based energy storage.”
Dubuc came on as CEO in May 2020, after serving on the company’s board. He switches roles with Stephen Coughlin, who now sits on the board, said Director of Communications Alison Mickey.
He and the newly hired 100 staff members grew the company’s workforce to more than 300 worldwide.
In October, the company bought Advanced Microgrid Solutions, which develops AI bidding software for batteries and other tech for storing and generating renewably sourced electricity. The merger will help to improve energy storage, grid reliability and efficiency, Wolek said.
Fluence is headquartered at 4601 N. Fairfax Drive, and has offices in San Francisco, suburban Atlanta, Germany and Australia.
Following weeks of fallout from the July 8 storm, Arlington officials are discussing a new program for tackling future floods.
During Tuesday’s County Board meeting, County Manager Mark Schwartz introduced “Flood Resilient Arlington,” to be considered during the spring budget planning.
Demetra McBride, who heads the Department of Environmental Services (DES) Sustainability and Environmental Management bureau, said Flood Resilient Arlington will include educational forums, site visits, and a potential flood-resilience incentive program to help the county prepare for increasingly extreme weather caused by climate change.
The program “builds upon” the 2014 Stormwater Master Plan, which outlined improvements to Arlington’s stormwater management systems, streams, and watersheds over the next 20 years, according to DES Chief Operating Officer Mike Moon.
“We hear about climate change, and it always seems to be somewhere else,” said Vice Board Chair Libby Garvey. “People tend to think and accuse the government of not doing something right, they don’t buy the climate change reason, so we have a level of education we [owe].”
Funding for Flood Resilient Arlington will not be established for “eight to nine months,” said Moon.
The next steps include approximately 80 visits from Board members beginning this month to sites deemed a “high risk” for flooding, or homes that received more than four feet of water during the July 8 storm. During the Tuesday presentation, McBride listed several neighborhoods — such as Waverley Hills, Westover, and Rock Spring — as high risk for future flooding based on past data. She highlighted steps homeowners can take to stay dry.
“I realize this is emotional for people, your home is a big investment,” McBride said. “They have families and children and they’re concerned for their safety.”
Two public forums to discuss the program are planned: one on Thursday, October 24 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street), and another on Saturday, October 26 from 10 a.m.- 12 p.m. at George Mason University’s Arlington campus (3351 Fairfax Drive.)
During the meetings, the public can expect to:
- Hear from experts on flood-proof design
- Learn about flood insurance options and coverage
- Learn about how to flood-proof your house
McBride stressed homeowners need to educate themselves on flood insurance policies, also noting the county needs to step in with educational resources.
Several residents told ARLnow in the flood’s aftermath they had received conflicting information about their eligibility for flood insurance and were left fearing they would have to bear tens of thousands of dollars in repair costs.
During the disaster, dozens of residents fled their homes, a few beloved Arlington businesses closed for repairs, six pedestrian bridges were washed away, and thousands of dollars were raised on platforms such as GoFundMe. The county stated days later it would not cover any sewage overflow damage caused by the flood, telling ARLnow it would violate state law.
Since then, residents have applied for over $2.1 million in U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans, Schwartz shared, and Arlington businesses have applied for more than $100,000 in loans. Applicants can still file for a loan by Monday, October 7.
“During a majority of the 1,100 damage reports [this summer], people had insurance and thought they were protected, and then they realized there were exemptions and exclusions,” said McBride. “That’s a gap we would help to close.”
In addition to damage to private property, Arlington County reported $5.8 million in damage to county property and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall reported damage to 26 buildings.
McBride said Arlington will have to slowly overhaul its public infrastructure through several long-term projects — like upgrading the stormwater pipes, developing large tanks for water storage, and property acquisition — to help address the flood risk.
“These [will require] long-term disruption of neighborhoods,” she said. “I wish we could avoid that, but we’re simply not going to be able to and that’s going to be a partnership we need to have with the public.”