As many of you who were glued to CNN or other major news networks this past weekend, the southeast was pummeled by a major storm. Now when you live by the water, (and in my case I live across the street from the Elizabeth River) you expect SOME flooding in bad weather. This is a given, and as such something I can understand and live with.
However, the city of Portsmouth, VA in their infinite wisdom (sic) have mismanaged funds for so long a bad problem is getting increasingly worse as the years drag on. Now I watched the news and kept an eye on the weather channel, and heard them go on about this "monster storm" "the Atlantic attack" etc. I wrote it all off as media hype, blowing a bad storm out of proportion in an attempt to get ratings.
I looked out my window mid Thurs, saw the waters were about ankle deep and smirked, thinking "this is the same 'bad storm' we get every year about this time with the same insane build up" Sure there was flooding, and high winds but you grow accustomed to this on the coast. By Friday I was not smirking any longer. What was an ankle deep inconvenience at best was now a 10 foot river. Not only was it water, but our sewers had over flowed so raw sewage was mixed in with that.
I was trapped on my porch, no way out, soon the power goes out and out it would stay for 3 whole days. Three days of no way to cook food, no heat, no hot water, no phone, no way of communicating to the outside world. If I wasn't lucky enough to have back up batteries for my cel phone, if god forbid there was a medical emergency no one would know until it was far too late to help.
At one point I had to literally swim to McDonald's just to get something to eat as I had no 'ready to eat' foods in the house, and my oven had long become merely decorative. When the waters went down, I was shocked at the devastation. It looked like a warzone, and it smelled like one as well. The sidewalks slick with sewage, downed trees, it looked as if a full blown hurricane had come through, when in reality it was just a light storm.
And all weekend long wouldn't you know it? Not ONE city car came through my street, not ONE official came to ask how we were. The Red Cross came out, they went door to door handing out brooms and mops and buckets to help with the clean up, but no one from our city. No one we elected to take care of our problems.
For YEARS we have railed on the problem with our ancient sewer line, they promised us time and time again, they would fix it when they had the money for it. Yet, they found SIX MILLION DOLLARS to give to a private businessman to build a Sports Hall Of Fame on High Street, so he could charge $12 a head in admission fees. We paid another six million for a round about by the court house (which is being moved to an area where the round about isn't!) But yet we can't get funding for a 1 million dollar pump for the floods or however much it costs to fix a sewer line?
On Monday, I went to City Hall to complain about their lack of acknowledgment and see what could be done, as we had been dubbed a "state of emergency" and FEMA funds were available to the surrounding areas to rebuild. However as far as I am aware, my city is the only one not to have filed for said funds. I get bounced from one end of the building to another, I was met with smirks and snark, the phrase "you weren't the only one that got flooded in the city" bandied about as if I was only concerned with my own well being. I responded "No, other areas got some water. WE got flooded."
My area, is not only the lowest point in the city, and thus is hit with the worst flooding but it's also the historic district, the face of the city, the top tourism dollar earner. And not only that, but we raise money to do the city's work for them, maintaining the parks, etc. So they take our taxes, and the money we save them by investing our own money and labor into city property and reinvest it into other districts, and line their corrupt pockets.
Eventually my journey into the civic underbelly ended at waste management to ask for new trash cans since mine floated to god knows where, and for someone to come and send street sweepers to clean this mess up.
My complaints were met with retaliation. No sooner did I leave City Hall, than did someone call my landlord and tell him I was talking trash about him to officials (which I certainly did not, he was not the basis of my trip, nor on my mind when I went in) this caused him to rage and threaten eviction, a matter which is still very much up in the air. I have watched the news and seen thE FEMA guys in Norfolk, and VA Beach and other areas, but I have not seen one FEMA person on my street which leads me to believe they still haven't filed for help.
I will be at my Civic League meeting on Thursday, and I will be at City Council meeting next Tuesday. I will claim damages from whomever nearly got me evicted, I am tired of being punished for doing the right thing!