Va. Beach could win $5M to help neighborhoods prone to flooding

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The City of Virginia Beach is in the running for the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2017 Mayors Challenge. It’s a contest that awards up to $5 million to help cities solve their most urgent problem.

It was this time last year that several Virginia Beach neighborhoods were cleaning up after Hurricane Matthew.

Earlier this month 10 On Your Side aired a series of stories showing residents still recovering from the storm one year later. The resort city is now working on a plan to one day prevent the massive flooding we saw in 2016.

The city submitted its application on Friday to compete for the grant.

According to Andrew Friedman, the city’s Department of Housing & Neighborhood Preservation Director the most urgent problems for the city include sea level rise, recurring flooding, and housing.

The city’s submitted idea incorporates a potential solution for all three.

“The idea is to create a comprehensive area plan for the three neighborhoods that were impacted most severely by the flooding,” Freidman said. The specific neighborhoods are The Plaza, Windsor Woods and The Lakes.

During an interview Monday Friedman told 10 On Your Side’s Brandi Cummings, getting input from the people who live there is a key to designing the future of a neighborhood.

However the plans will take years to complete.

“In addition we wanted to look at opportunities for changes to the housing that residents themselves need to do. Changes potentially to the design of some streets and parks,” he said.

But the grant money wouldn’t pay for the work itself.

Friedman explained it covers three distinct areas — citizen engagement, design assistance and project coordination.

There may be opportunities for citizens to get help to make changes.

“We want to put together a package of housing assistance financing that can help people either raise their houses or make design changes that reduce their vulnerability to flooding,” Friedman said.

As 10 On Your Side has reported, the city council has already voted to dedicate $316 million toward city-wide infrastructure projects.

Friedman said that move is the foundation that will make the future of the neighborhoods better.

“Bringing as many pieces of city work and effort together so that we can have a great impact on the future,” he said.

The city will find out in January 2018 if it is a finalist. If so, they get to test part of their idea in March.

They’ll then find out in October 2018 if they win the $5 million.