Va. Beach leaders express concern over Hurricane Matthew preparedness

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Council members are voicing concerns over how well the city of Virginia Beach was prepared to handle the severe flooding and storm damage caused by Hurricane Matthew.

“This has hit really hard,” said Councilwoman Shannon Kane, who grew emotional during a work session on Tuesday.

Kane represents some of the hardest hit areas, like Windsor Woods.

“My concern is these residents needed us and it took us six days to get there to help them.”

Other council members chimed in on the widespread destruction, impacting many families without flood insurance.

“People who had never had this problem, lived in their house for 56 years, suddenly had five feet to seven from their basement up,” said Councilwoman Amelia Ross-Hammond.

The comments came following a recovery briefing presented by City Manager Dave Hansen and Deputy City Manager Steven Cover.

The presentation revealed that more than 1,400 residences were damaged, including eight that were totally destroyed.

“We did not have a plan to deal with this kind of an incident,” Hansen told 10 On Your Side. “It’s been since 1963 that our city has been impacted to this magnitude and that’s a long time and so, this is a fairly significant event for those affected.”

But Hansen said a plan is now in place and working effectively.

“We have worked diligently…to bring as many assets forward as we can,” he said.

During the presentation, Hansen and Cover discussed the many city departments working hard towards relief – from public safety departments collecting food, to Housing and Human Services putting affected residents up in hotels.

Benefits are being provided at the Bow Creek Recreation Center from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Several agencies — Team Rubicon, Operation Blessing, UM Corps and Conservative Baptists — have assisted with cleanup.

“We’re trying to get from recovery – making sure every house is mucked out – to rebuilding,” Hansen said.

Per his request, council adopted three add-on ordinances which will provide $8.79 million for recovery, allow the city manager to donate excess city property to people in-need, and waive certain permit fees for building.

“We will be ready next time, I’m confident,” said Kane. “We have a plan now in place that’s working and it’s moving like a well-oiled machine and that’s what needs to happen.”

Hansen told 10 On Your Side that he expects the city to receive assistance from the federal government.