Hurricane Matthew victims to petition for more funds to improve infrastructure

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Victims who faced severe flooding during Hurricane Matthew are petitioning for the city to improve its stormwater infrastructure, and fast.

“I just wanted to do whatever I could to protect my home, my family, my neighbors,” said Virginia Wasserberg.

Wasserberg’s Windsor Woods home saw 18 inches of flood water. After having to live elsewhere for three months, she decided to take action.

Wasserberg joined a flood committee as part of the Princess Anne Plaza Civic League.

After months of research, the committee presented a petition to the league during its meeting Tuesday.

Committee Chair William Jennings opened with some snark. He put on a life vest, claiming it was a gift from the city. He then pulled out a piece of paper reading “TOE TAG, RIP – the city council had other budget priorities. Sorry you drowned.”

During a city council work session earlier Tuesday, Public Works officials presented the proposed Stormwater Capital Improvement Plan. For the 2018-2023 fiscal years, roughly $134 million is provided — a little more than $22 million on average, annually.

The proposal does not put any of that money towards flood control projects in some of the neighborhoods that suffered the most during Hurricane Matthew.

To complete all of its stormwater projects, Public Works would need $451 million. The flood committee wants council to provide the money

“They have the projects. Finding the funding is what we can help them do,” Jennings said.

He and Wasserberg said they would happily assist the city in finding potential grants.

“I really believe that if our citizens come together, unite, our leagues unite, we can work peacefully towards a common goal with our city council, making it so this doesn’t ever happen again.”

On Thursday, the committee will present its proposed petition to the Virginia Beach Council of Civic Organizations to garner additional support. After that, they intend to officially launch the petition and collect signatures.

In two weeks, the city manager will present his budget proposal to council. Council will vote to approve the budget by May.