Improvements to Shockoe Bottom for this hurricane season

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Today is the first day of the 2010 hurricane season and it is bringing back memories of Gaston, and the mess it left back in 2004.

Tropical Storm Gaston was one of those storms that dumped a lot of rain that became backed up in the Shockoe Bottom area. Now, today things are different and people hope the improvements made by the city, will help prevent another flood.

The images from 2004 are one that are etched in the minds of so many in Shockoe Bottom.

The rain from Gaston pouring into the city, and Ann Carter was working in this law office on 18th Street, as it all unfolded.

"In my office water was up to the second floor everything was floating or lost," says Ann. "Water all over the streets. We had no idea that going to be as severe as the storm was."

This storm was so rare, even the city admits it would impossible for not only Richmond...but any city to handle this much rain.

"That was a real ordeal. I don't think anyone could have predicted that," says Carter.

Since Gaston, the city has improved the drainage in the bottom. That includes more drains along the curb and improving the drains that were already in place that did not work as well as they should.

"The city got that in control and I'm hoping that should we have anything like that for sure, we will not be experiencing the flooding," says Carter.

The following are projects that the city has done and is doing in Shockoe Bottom following Tropical Storm Gaston:  Current infrastructure improvements will allow Shockoe Bottom to handle up to a 50 year storm:

1) The addition of three gate structures on the Northeast Interceptor.  These additions will help to prevent the transfer of flow from the Arch Sewer to the Box Sewer which is the primary sewer collector in the Shockoe Bottom area.

2) Installation and/or modification of approximately 100 curb inlets.  The improved curb inlets capture storm water from the steeper slopes leading to the Shockoe Bottom watershed and help prevent flooding in the lowest parts of the Shockoe Bottom area.

3) Redesign of the storm drainage system in Pine Alley which reduces the storm water contribution at Pine Alley (one of the lowest elevations in Shockoe Bottom) by redesigning the storm drainage system in the Alley.  The new system captures a significant portion of the storm water that would normally enter the alley.

4) Separation of the East Gravity Outlet (EGO) from the Combined Sewer Overflow System.  The EGO and the CSO System are interconnected at a Cross Over Chamber in the Shockoe system.  The separation of the Cross Over Chamber will eliminate the need for gate operations to minimize interior flooding, and increase the reliability of both the Flood Reduction system and Environmental Protection system by operating in a fail safe mode.

5) Connecting the Box Sewer to the East Gravity Outlet.  The connection will provide a high rate overflow to further improve the capacity of the Shockoe Bottom Drainage system.

6) Restoration of the Upper Shockoe Creek Retention Basin.   This project will restore the capacity of the Upper Shockoe Creek Retention Basin, which was installed in 1971 as a flow equalization structure.

7) In preparation for the upcoming Hurricane Season, DPU recently cleaned the upper and lower Shockoe Retention Basin prior to Hurricane Season.  This will allow the basin to hold million of gallons of water from Shockoe Bottom.

8) Working with the City's office of Emergency management, DPu recently established two early warning centers for overland flow.

9) Re-accreditation of Richmond floodwall levies.

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