Assessing Flooding and Hydrodynamics for Flood Prevention and Mitigation

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Featured image for the project, Assessing Flooding and Hydrodynamics for Flood Prevention and Mitigation


When Hurricane Matthew hit the Mid Atlantic in late September of 2016, the city of Virginia Beach experienced wide-spread flooding.  Over 10 inches of rain fell in this low-lying section of the city, overburdening its stormwater system.  Nearly 2,000 homes in the central part of the city were flooded.

The City of Virginia Beach is part of the larger Hampton Roads metropolitan area with a population over 1.7 million and mainly known for its large, natural harbor and military presence.  The area has one of the highest rates of sea level rise on the Eastern seaboard (approximately 4 mm per year on average) exacerbated by continued subsidence (or sinking) of the land.  The combination of sea-level rise, subsidence, aging stormwater infrastructure, and increased urban development mean that rainwater is unable to drain properly.  The Thalia Creek watershed, situated in the center of the city, sits within the larger Lynnhaven Watershed which drains to the Chesapeake Bay.  The Thalia Creek watershed is heavily developed with sparse open space to absorb rainwater during large storm events.

Residents have established two grass root groups to tackle flooding in and around the Thalia Creek watershed: Stop Flooding NOW and the Princess Anne Plaza Civic League Flooding Committee.  Stop the Flooding NOW was established as a Facebook group in 2017 as a resource for all Virginia Beach residents to share their experiences and seek solutions to flooding challenges together.  Over 1,000 people follow the group posts.  The Facebook group is not associated with City government but coordinates with the Princess Anne Plaza Civic League Flooding Committee.  The mission of the Committee is to work with city officials and its departments to find and implement solutions to mitigate the flooding.  Both groups have access to numerous engineering reports and the results of numerous workshops and forums.  Both would like to work closely with a dedicated hydrologist to synthesize the available reports, and develop next steps or proposed solutions. Both groups would use their enhanced understanding to have productive interaction with local decision-makers.

This project was conceived and designed in partnership with the Virginia Beach community leaders and Flood Forum USA.


A Dream for Virginia Beach, VA

Here’s a video from Virginia Wasserberg, community leader and organizer of STOP the Flooding Now. Flood Forum USA produced this video featuring Virginia sharing her dreams and aspirations for her community.

A Snapshot of Flooding in Virginia Beach, Virginia

What’s the ticket to a successful community meeting? Make it personal.

All updates for this project

Project Team

Community Leads

Virginia Wasserberg is a member of the Princess Anne Plaza Civic League Flood Committee and the Leader of Stop the Flooding NOW in Virginia Beach, VA.

Virginia is a music major and homeschooling mother of two. In October of 2016 she and her husband, experienced a combined 18 inches of stormwater and sewage back-up due to heavy rains from two tropical storms and Hurricane Matthew. Virginia’s entire neighborhood was flooded and many homes were severely damaged. It took 3 months of restoration before Virginia and her family could move back into their Virginia Beach home.  Shortly after these events, Virginia became involved with her local Civic League, seeking solutions to the persistent flooding. After meeting with Virginia Beach City staff, Virginia was motivated to create a Facebook community page, Stop the Flooding NOW in an effort to connect residents with flooding on a more personal level. The page gained momentum in the following months and has become an important communication resource for many residents of Virginia Beach.


Scientific Lead

Michelle Covi is an Assistant Professor of Practice at Old Dominion University in the Department of Ocean Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and part of the Virginia Sea Grant extension program. She conducts research and outreach activities for climate change adaptation and coastal resilience efforts for coastal Virginia with an emphasis on Hampton Roads.  Her research areas include sea level rise and resilience risk perception and communication, public participation in adaptation planning processes and engagement/outreach practices. She co-organizes the Hampton Roads Sea Level Rise/ Flooding Adaptation Forum, a quarterly meeting of adaptation stakeholders and co-chaired the Citizen Engagement Working Group of the Hampton Roads Intergovernmental Pilot Project.  She completed her doctorate in Coastal Resources Management at East Carolina University, where her focus was on sea level rise risk communication and policy research. She has a Masters degree in Zoology (Marine Science) from University of Georgia and a BS in Biology/Geology from University of Rochester.


Collaborating Organization(s)

This project is part of one of TEXs’ new cohorts.  TEX has partnered with Flood Forum USA which supports grassroots flood groups across the country by helping them develop strategies for a sustainable future.  TEX is working with ten of their grassroots groups to connect them with scientists who can help them better characterize neighborhood-level flood risks and work effectively with local decision makers to mitigate those risks.

Flood Forum USA