Richmonders brace for flooding after discovering trash in storm drains

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)–With the increased rainfall from Elsa, some Central Virginia residents are concerned about possible flooding from clogged drains.

Lauren Rabak, who lives in northside Richmond, said she experiences flooding in her basement whenever there are intense rain events. She recently installed a pump in her basement when she realized the water in her basement came from the sewer.

“It was coming up from the ground and also coming down on the walls,” Rabak said.

Her neighbor discovered trash clogging up the storm drain in front of her home.

“I was really upset that the city has neglected that, because as you can see in the pictures it’s packed high,” Rabak said.

The pictures she posted on social media showed plastic bottles, styrofoam boxes, shoes and mud packed in the sewer. Rabak said it took one hour to shovel out two 42 gallon trash bags worth of debris from the storm drain.

“Catch basins are very deep. There was probably, I wanna say another two to three feet that still needed to be cleared after I was done,” she said.

Rabak contacted the Department of Public Utilities, saying customers pay the city a monthly fee that should cover the cleanup. Six days after she called the department, crews cleared all three storm drains near Utah place. However, she’s not sure if they will come out to clean the drains periodically.

This is not just a problem in the city’s northside. Rabak said every time it rains heavily residents in certain neighborhoods tend to suffer the most.

“It’s pretty frustrating to see because you don’t see that quite as frequently in the more affluent neighborhoods,” she said.

Rabak is preparing for the storm by pumping the water out of her basement Thursday.

“Pump it out and do what we can, but we’re at the mercy of the city at this point,” she said.

Rabak studies environmental science at Southern New Hampshire University.

“I take anything involving the environment very seriously,” she told 8News.

Rabak wants to present a solution to city leaders about placing more trash cans on the street, so litter won’t stop up the storm drains.

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