Emotions Run High During Public Meeting in Virginia Beach

13News Now Audrey Esther has the story

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- First storm victims living in Waypoint Apartments survived the flood and saved what belongings they could. Now the apartment complex is throwing both them and those belongings out due to unsafe living conditions. 

“This is the worst thing that has ever happened to us. We've been through a lot but this is the worst,” says Marisol Rivera about the flooding. 

She says she’s thankful though to have her most precious possessions.  

“My grandson, grand daughter is safe and that's what counts,” she says. 

She and other residents are also grateful for the few material items they do have, but still sad they must leave the items they couldn’t save behind.    

“I only have one more room to empty before they can tear up the carpet,” Rivera says about the remaining items in her apartment. 

As soon as she and the complex’s hundreds of the other tenants leave, restoration crews will tear down and then rebuild the apartments, which could take up to a year.     

“This building, that building. We all been working together. Nobody in this area been fighting arguing about nothing,” Riviera says.

But up the road in the Windsor Woods neighborhood emotions ran high during a pre-scheduled public meeting about that neighborhood’s flooding issues. Due to the timing of Hurricane Matthew, the meeting became heated with many residents losing their cool and directing their anger at Virginia Beach city officials.  

“No, I'm not going to stop,” yells a resident at Virginia Beach City Manager, Dave Hansen. “We need help now.”

“I'm putting as much manpower as I can and am able to give to you into your neighborhood but I'm working thirty four other neighborhoods at the same time,” Hansen says.

Where nearly 1,000 homes and hundreds of other residents face the same challenges and frustrations. 

“We need help. We need manpower to get all the gunk out,” says one resident. “We can't do it alone.”

At this point, Hansen says neither can the city.

“I don't have the financial resources right now to commit to hire people to do this work,” Hansen says.

Most of the cleanup work going forward he says will need to be done by volunteers or unfortunately the homeowners themselves. Specifically, those who do not have flood insurance, which he estimates is about 85% of the residents impacted.

“Therefore it is incumbent upon themselves to work diligently to figure out how to recover from this incident. We'll provide some sheltering, we'll provide some ability for them to find food and we'll find assistance where assistance is available.”

Hansen says on Tuesday he will ask city council members to approve allocating public funds to help flood victims. He also says he will contact volunteer groups and organizations such as possibly the National Guard to see if they can help residents with cleanup.


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