Petersburg to use federal dollars to upgrade stormwater management system

The Tri-Cities

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) – Heavy winds, dark skies and rain hit Petersburg as the remnants of Hurricane Ida passed through Central Virginia Wednesday.

Flooding has been a long time issue in Petersburg, but the city said they were prepared for the worst Wednesday.

Ominous clouds moved over Petersburg Wednesday afternoon, bringing on and off rain showers to the city. Rain water could be seen rushing into storm drains near city hall.

City Manager Stuart Turille said the city’s fire and police departments were on standby Wednesday, prepared to close streets as needed and help keep vehicles and people away from areas in the city that flood during hard downpours.

On Tuesday, the Petersburg Department of Public Works cleaned storm drains throughout the city to prepare for Wednesday’s storm.

Turille said the city is working on hiring a contractor to come in and perform a study to replace some of the old infrastructure causing flooding issues, using funding from the American Recovery Act.

“We’re going to fix these problem areas,” Turille said in an interview with 8News Wednesday.

He said Wednesday’s storm brought in by Ida was just a test of the city’s drainage system. The city is using the storm to collect data.

“These events just point out, highlight the urgency of the need for long term planning,” he said.

The data is part of a new study that will help the city figure out where infrastructure needs to be replaced the most to minimize flooding when severe storms occur.

“We have the money now to actually put in culverts, construct more ditches, interconnect more pipes, replace the old pipes that were laid here in 1820 and fix the system,” Turille said.

Petersburg received $21 million dollars from the American Recovery Act funding, and Turille said part of that money will go towards the project. A press release sent out by the city on Tuesday said the city will also apply for grants from state and federal agencies.

For now, Petersburg Police Chief Travis Christian reminds the public, it’s still important to remember your own safety during severe weather.

“If you see high water, don’t drive through the water. If you see downed power lines, don’t attempt to go near the power lines, don’t attempt to go near wet areas where you see power lines, and by all means, try to stay inside the residence if at all possible and don’t come out in the weather,” Christian said.

The city is still looking for a contractor for the planned study.

If citizens see clogged drains or fallen trees, they’re asked to call street operations at (804) 733-2415 during normal working hours (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.).

To report any flooded areas or other concerns after 5 p.m., residents can call the Petersburg Police Department’s non-emergency number, (804) 732-4222. Call 9-1-1 for emergencies, including any emergencies where you must exit your home due to flooding.

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