Hundreds of open requests to clean city drains, Richmond officials say that’s not the cause of the flooding


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Heavy rains flooded parts of Richmond Thursday and a day later, city officials say it couldn’t have been prevented.

The rushing water-stranded drivers closed roads and prompted water rescues. Among the hardest-hit areas, Grace and Harrison Streets near VCU. That area got close to three inches of rain in about an hour. Bob Steidel with Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Richmond’s Department of Public Works says it was just too much water in a short amount of time.

(Photo: Kerri O’Brien/WRIC)

“The system is not designed to handle what came down in the period of time,” he said. “Once the rain ended the system drained within 30 minutes, it was functioning according to normal.”

Still, 8News found there are currently 650 open requests to clean storm drains citywide on the RVA311 website made in the last year. Of those requests, 238 were made in the last three months. 8News also spotted multiple clogged drains filled with trash and other debris on Friday. Richmond resident Matthew Surles is not surprised.

“If you look in there now there are still branches and stuff,” Surles said.

He pointed out a drain on Floyd Avenue and Allen Avenue still has debris in it.  This was just hours after crews picked up some limbs in front of it. Surles believes the blockage led to flooding in the area yesterday.

“There was brush piled up like three or four feet high right on top of the drainage hole,” he said.

(Photo: Kerri O’Brien/WRIC)

Howard Glenn, from Richmond’s Department of Public Works, said the city has 35,000 drains to maintain. The department denies those hundreds of open requests to clean out drains had anything to do with the flooding near VCU.

“The intersection in question had no open requests prior to this event,” he said.

When asked what the City of Richmond is doing to prevent future flooding, officials said that City Council just approved a little over $8.7 million dollars in capital improvements.

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