Flood prevention a continued focus in Roanoke County

Leaders discussed what's worked, what's to come after Thursday's rain

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – For local leaders around Virginia, the emphasis on stormwater drainage increases as rain events like what the Commonwealth saw Thursday become more common.

Roanoke County leaders are hopeful their flood prevention plans will help in the future and believe their recent projects have helped many people avoid dangerous and destructive flooding situations.

10 News has been reporting on the VDOT project that will spend $6 million on widening Electric Road near Tanglewood Mall. It’s scheduled to be completed in 2021. That project will also include drainage upgrades.

County leaders have voluntarily spent money on drainage improvement projects, focusing many projects in the Penn Forest area. They have more projects planned and said they’re working.

“We tend to see a reduction in flood-related damage in the areas around where we've done projects in the past,” assistant county administrator Richard Caywood said. “It's an enormous system and we're making incremental progress toward making it better.”

One major project that he said has guarded against flooding is the regional stormwater detention basin at Hidden Valley High School.

It can prevent flooding from the area around the school to the Garst Mill Park area. It was built about 15 years ago, and leaders said storms like the one Thursday are when it’s most valuable.

Leaders are still assessing the storm’s impact, but they think Tropical Storm Michael dropped a once-in-75-years amount of rain on Roanoke County.

“We know that things would have been worse had it not been for that significant investment to create a large regional basin that's in the Garst Mill Creek and drainage basin area,” Caywood said.

Crews go in after big storms and clean out the sediment so it doesn't get downstream. 10 News showed video on-air Tuesday of the mud left behind.

The county has resources to inform people about how they can help with drainage. The number one tip is to keep drains and pipes clear of debris.