“My basement is a pool”: Petersburg man frustrated with city after home floods again

The Tri-Cities

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — A Petersburg man’s backyard is flooded and his basement is underwater due to recent heavy downpours in the Richmond metro area, but this isn’t the first time. James Moss says he is fed up with the city’s response and wants answers, so his home on Claremont Street doesn’t flood again.

Moss has lived in his home for nearly two years and says every time it rains he is on pins and needles, left to clean up a big mess.

“I’m highly upset, I’m exhausted and I’m tired,” Moss expressed to 8News.

Visibly frustrated by the constant flooding, Moss says he came home to an “unexpected pool” in his backyard and basement.

“I came home from work and as soon as I stepped on the ground the grass was wet,” Moss said. “I mean my whole foot sunk in. I look over into my neighbor’s backyard and I see his backyard is a pond. I look into my backyard and it’s carrying over.”

Moss took 8News around his backyard and every step was squishy and filled with puddles, however, a majority of the water was concentrated in his basement, which is underwater.

“I could go swimming in my basement,” exclaimed Moss.

He estimates about 5 feet of stormwater is currently covering his basement. Moss’ washer and dryer are floating, water levels are dangerously close to the circuit box–almost reaching the doorknob and his work boots, trashcan and computer chair are wading in the water.

Not only that, but Moss is concerned for safety reasons. He says he is not stepping into the water over the fear of electrical wires and electrocution. The Petersburg resident also adds that it’s a breeding ground for mold, mildew, mosquitoes and sewer bacteria.

Unfortunately, this flooding isn’t the first time for Moss. Just last month his basement flooded and 8News was there to witness the aftermath. During that July rain, Moss said he tried his best to sweep all the water out, used his shop vac, sprayed a lot of Lysol, and had his pump running, however, this time is different. Moss says there’s so much water this time, he doesn’t know what to do.

Moss said since last month’s flooding, he filed a $12,000 insurance claim with the city but hasn’t heard anything back. 8News reached out to the city on Tuesday, who said they’re aware of the claim and it’s under investigation.

“My sewer is backed up. The water is coming into the yard,” Moss explained. “My pump is just circulating water to the sewer, back into the yard and back into the basement. The pump isn’t even working now. I think it shorted itself out from all the water.”

Moss goes on to say the extreme flooding is because the storm drains are clogged with tree limbs, leaves and trash. On Tuesday, some of that debris was sitting in Moss’ driveway due to the water receding.

“Help,” Moss exclaimed. “I don’t know what to do.”

Moss says he’s been calling the Petersburg Department of Public Works and the city manager non-stop but has been met with no response.

“I got back nothing,” said Moss. “Not a callback, nothing!”

Recent utility bills show Moss is paying a monthly stormwater fee, but he claims crews don’t clean his drain regularly. He adds that he called to report the issue on Monday after the rain over the weekend and nobody came, so Monday’s rain made the flooding worse.

8News called the city on Tuesday to follow-up on the issue and by the time the interview with Moss was complete, city crews arrived to jet clean the drains on Claremont Street. Although the drains were cleared on Tuesday afternoon, more rain is in the forecast for the week and Moss is left with standing water and soaked appliances.

“The damage is already done,” Moss said. “Yeah, you can clean it out now, but I still got damage.”

A Petersburg spokesperson responded in a statement to 8News:


“Petersburg’s Department of Public Works & Utilities are in communities throughout the City cleaning storm drains daily. The City has over 1,500 drains that are inspected and cleaned each month. If a resident sees a drain that they believe may be clogged, they should call street operations at 804-733-2415. A crew will be dispatched to address the concern.”

The City of Petersburg

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