Third time unlucky for Northgate businesses

Published 9:29 pm Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Flooding at the entrance to Northgate Commerce Park has once again angered owners of businesses in the park, who say the city emailed them on Friday and promised the hurricane wouldn’t cause flooding. Pumps running on Tuesday had lowered the water level enough for the road to be passable. (Matthew A. Ward)

For the third time in less than four months, businesses have had to ferry workers in and out with trucks due to the single road linking Northgate Commerce Park to the outside world flooding.

Though, at face value, Hurricane Sandy is a better excuse than the heavy rains which swamped the corner of Shoulder’s Hill Road and Nansemond Parkway overnight on July 10 and Aug. 28, the city has once again drawn the ire of Northgate businesses for not fixing the problem.

“It’s happened about a dozen times since we’ve been here — 10 years,” said Sam Daniels, president of Wanchese Fish Company on Northgate Commerce Parkway.

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Daniels described ferrying 80 workers across four feet of water in the back of a truck Tuesday morning, an operation the company is starting to perfect — at a cost.

“We’ve already ruined one $90,000 truck,” he said. “We’d like the city to pay for that.”

Two pumps were running Tuesday afternoon to drain the flooded section of road, which most vehicles were able to negotiate.

Industrial general contractors Allfirst, also on the parkway, reopened Tuesday after James Templeton, the company’s vice president, used his raised pickup to shuttle “at least 10” workers across the water.

“We had some guys just didn’t come in — they decided to stay home for the day,” Templeton said.

According to Templeton, the city emailed Northgate businesses on Friday to say that “everything was fixed and it wouldn’t happen again.”

“It’s just inconvenient,” he continued. “Why, coming out of our road toward Nansemond Parkway, does the road dip down and have to come back up? Why didn’t they level it?

“They brought in dirt all around” and left a depression at the intersection, he said, adding, “To me, that’s ridiculous.”

Frank Moseley, service manager at Aire Serv Heating & Air Conditioning of Hampton Roads, said the flooding Tuesday was “as bad as it’s ever been,” though his workers managed to make it in.

“We did get a call from the city, and they sent an email, saying they’ve got all their pumps running and so forth,” he said.

“The last I heard, still the main drain lines aren’t put in, so without the main drain lines it’s going to continue to be a problem.”

City Public Works Director Eric Nielsen previously has said he is confident that two 91- by 58-inch elliptical pipes, due for completion after the Hampton Roads Sanitation District installs a new force main, which was due this month, would fix the flooding.

A request for an interview with Nielsen to update the situation and explain the city’s pre-hurricane correspondence with Northgate business was not fulfilled before deadline Tuesday.