DANVILLE, Va. (WFXR) — Down in Danville, when it rains, it pours… at least for folks living on the corner of Strafford Place and Westhampton Avenue. Since Hurricane Michael in 2018, residents say they’ve been dealing with flash flooding every time there’s heavy rain.
Danville resident Joshua Willis has lived at the intersection of Strafford and Westhampton since 2009.
“One night, really hard rain, I walked outside and there was water up past the rims on my car, so that was worst it ever got before Hurricane Michael,” said Willis pointing at the street in front of his house, “and then since then, it’s gotten to be anytime there’s a heavy hard rain, there’s at least a foot or two of water.”
The water, he says, builds up in an instant, stays for around a half hour, and suddenly whirlpools down the storm drains on either side of Westhampton.
He says the houses on his side of the street get flooding in the front and more flooding in the backyard, where their properties are fringed by a steep hill up the railroad track.
Johnny Melton lives on one of those properties a few houses up from Willis.
“The water coming off of that street comes down a ditch. That ditch been clogged, so it comes through our yards,” Melton explained. “It’s not adequate to carry the water on the backside, as well as the drain. The storm culverts are supposed to take care of it on the front side, but we get it from both sides.”
He says he doesn’t get as flooded as homes further downhill like Willis’, but he has spent a few thousand dollars just this year to protect his property.
“I appreciate the city doing what they do, but I do wish they would take care of keeping these storm drains clean,” said Melton.
Brandon Tucker owns Custom Concepts Landscaping and helps Willis with his home repairs. He’s tried to reroute the flooding, but because Willis’ house is between that intersection and the ditch, the water has nowhere to go.
“Ditches have been dug, drainage has been put in,” he said, pointing out shallow trenches Willis dug himself to try and divert water coming from the ditch.
Tucker himself has laid down pipes to fix the problem, but it still floods.
“I would say the city needs to come down here and check the drainage,” he added.
The city says the Danville Public Works Department only has one recorded complaint from that block about a sinkhole on Willis’ property that officials determined was his job to fix.
However, Willis says he’s called the city multiple times, with his mother saying she even called the mayor’s office about the problem. Their neighbor, Dallen McKinnis, says he’s also spoken with the Danville City Council on the matter.
“It seems like the city doesn’t care, but it’s really frustrating,” McKinnis said. “I mean you’ll see it, this entire intersection right here, it’s completely flooded.”
McKinnis and Willis both worry about street-parking their cars in case of sudden rain, with Willis saying he’s nervous an overconfident driver will get stuck in the flooding.
“It gets two-feet high in an instant and traffic doesn’t stop for it and they keep trying to drive through it,” Willis said.