Hurricane Gaston Anniversary: Flashback to $130M worth of damage

Millions spent to improve drainage system

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Fifteen years ago this week, the remnants of Hurricane Gaston stalled out over the Richmond area, killing nine people and causing $130 million in damage.

Shockoe Bottom was completely swallowed up when the city’s drainage system became overwhelmed by nearly a foot of rain from the storm, which was a tropical depression when it hit Virginia on Aug. 30.

The National Weather Service says the storm spawned 19 tornadoes.

Richmond’s floodwall helped keep water from the James River out, but the rainwater still flooded downtown.

“I drove around the corner and the police were moving everybody out. And that was it. I didn’t see the place no more until I seen it on Channel 12 - got home, it was on the news - and it was up over the door,” said Tommy Goulding on the 10-year anniversary of the storm.

Bod Steidel, Richmond’s former director of Utilities, said in 2017 that it’s possible the flooding could happen again if an unprecedented of rainfall hit the city.

After Gaston, the city installed dozens of new drains to help get rainwater out of Shockoe Bottom whenever heavy rain hits.

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