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Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Matthew pummeled Virginia Beach, the City Council authorized almost $9 million to pay for the cleanup Tuesday, amid concerns for the storm’s human toll.
During a briefing at City Hall Tuesday afternoon, City Manager Dave Hansen and Deputy City Manager Steve Cover updated council about the damages that resulted from the storm. As of Oct. 18, the city had surveyed more than 1,400 homes and determined that more than 100 are either temporarily uninhabitable or completely destroyed due to severe flooding. This number is expected to increase as assessment teams continue working through this week.
Since the storm hit, the city has received hundreds of clean-up requests. According to the recovery briefing presented to council, nearly 40 crews have been deployed to clear more than 16 tons of debris, including uprooted trees, vehicles and home appliances. While 30,000 cubic yards of materials have already been collected, about 55,000 cubic yards remain.
“As fast as our waste management groups are picking this stuff up, there’s even more coming to the curb,” said Cover. “But I want to tip my hat to them — they’ve been pretty resilient getting it taken care of.”
Public safety continues to be a top priority. Crews are currently in the process of providing restaurant and private well inspections, evaluating vehicle damages, mucking and gutting water-logged homes, and briefing and training volunteers.
The Virginia Beach Police Department has also scheduled additional safety patrols to the neighborhoods affected most by the storm.
Estimated damage and recovery costs have surpassed $3 million and are expected to reach upwards of $7 million by the end of the rebuilding period.
The neighborhoods most affected by the storm include Bow Creek, Carriage Hill, Green Run, The Lakes, Pecan Gardens, Princess Anne Plaza, Scarborough Square, Wayside Apartments, Windsor Oaks, Windsor Oaks West and Windsor Woods.
Impacted by 14-17 inches of flooding, the hardest-hit residents, many of whom are in temporary housing, need items such as food, bedding, tables and chairs.
After the presentations by Hansen and Cover, several council members expressed dissatisfaction with the city’s overall response in wake of the disaster.
“This has hit really hard in my district,” said Council member Shannon Kane. “I’m concerned that it took the city six days to come to the aid of residents that needed us. We can never let this happen again.”
Council member Robert Dyer echoed Kane’s frustrations.
“There is a lot of human tragedy out there and we have to be there for our residents,” said Dyer. “Not just during or after the storm — but before the storm as well.”
Mayor Will Sessoms also commented about the overall response, as well as the work of emergency personnel.
“We misjudged how much this storm was going to impact us and people experienced extreme losses. But let’s not forget that our first responders were superb.”
Later, the council unanimously passed three ordinances designed to bring relief to storm victims and bolster the city’s response: council authorized $8.8 million in funds to cover cleanup costs, including debris removal and temporary housing; council authorized Hansen to donate up to $300,000 in city-owned personal property, such as furniture, to charities that are helping with the cleanup, including the Salvation Army and Operation Blessing; and council waived certain city permitting fees for residents who must rebuild or repair uninhabitable structures after the storm.