City blamed in lawsuit for Shockoe Bottom storm damage

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The President of the Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association talked to NBC12 about the $31 million lawsuit filed against the City of Richmond.

Sunday marks the fifth anniversary of the devastating flooding sparked by Tropical Storm Gaston. Dozens of Shockoe Bottom businesses were damaged or destroyed.

"They mean business," said David Napier.

Napier owns Old City Bar in Shockoe Bottom. A Gaston survivor.

"It was a total loss for the business two hundred to a two hundred fifty thousand dollar rebuild," said Napier.

But Napier decided against joining the 19 businesses and major developers that are suing the City of Richmond for $31 million.

"I think they have real frustration in that there was an economic development plan down here that died recently that addressed some of these core issues unfortunately the discussion was more about baseball than correcting the problems down here," said Napier.

A line more than six feet from the floor at Bottom's Up Pizza serves as a constant reminder of the water damage by Gaston nearly five years ago.

Michael Ripp, who owned three Shockoe bars and restaurants at the time says it wasn't the all the rain from Gaston, but the city's negligence to prevent catastrophic flooding in the Bottom.

The lawsuit alleges the city failed to inspect and maintain its flood control and sewer systems.

It was clear from these pictures of Midlothian Turnpike on Monday, there are still drainage issues citywide. Improvements there, are expected next spring.

After Gaston, the city made some drainage upgrades in the Bottom. Napier says heavy rains aren't a problem anymore. Does he think the bottom could weather another Gaston?

"I think you would have water in the streets but it wouldn't be ten feet," said Napier.

City spokesperson Michael Wallace says the city has not yet been served with the lawsuit and could not comment either way. According to the lawsuit, the businesses want a trial by jury. It reportedly could take a year before a trial takes place.

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