Solution sought for Kimberly flooding

Published 10:35 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A sign prevents drivers from heading down Main Street during a November 2009 nor’easter storm. City officials have applied for federal funding to find a solution to frequent flooding in the Kimberly area.

The city of Suffolk has applied for up to $4 million in federal funding to repair a longstanding tidal flooding issue in the Kimberly area of downtown.

A letter from City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn to Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb asked for the funding through the Water Resources Development Act, a 2007 bill that set aside federal funds for water development projects.

The Kimberly area, which surrounds the Kimberly Bridge across the Nansemond River just behind the Hilton Garden Inn, is prone to frequent flooding. In recent memory, its most notable flood occurred during a nor’easter in November 2009. At that time, the road was closed for days, and many surrounding businesses were left with substantial water damage and lost business.

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Preliminary studies of the road have determined that even a 6-inch rise in elevation would reduce the frequency of tidal flooding almost 65 percent. A one-foot difference would result in an 84-percent reduction.

Raising the road up to three feet would eliminate virtually all of the flooding, but it would affect nearby businesses to the point where the city likely would have to purchase the properties and remove the buildings, Cuffee-Glenn wrote.

“When Main Street is closed at this location, the connection between Suffolk’s historic business district and its commercial district to the North is severed,” she wrote. “Patrons of the area businesses, as well as residents, must take an approximate 6-mile detour to reach homes and businesses on the other side of the Nansemond River.

“As you can imagine, even a temporary road closure can have a detrimental impact on the businesses on either side of the closure.”

If funding is obtained, further evaluation of the flooding tendency and the effect on adjacent properties would be included in the project, she added.