Bloomingdale flooding solution would cost $20M

D.C. officials announced Tuesday that a short-term plan to help residents of a flood-prone Northwest neighborhood would cost more than $20 million.

Residents of the Bloomingdale neighborhood saw four major floods in two months this summer, including three major floods in nine days in July.

"It's like the Potomac River," 52-year-old Bloomingdale resident Inez Wilson said of the flooding.

Her home flooded all four times, and she says she's still dealing with mold, mildew and dirt in her basement.

Many residents also saw sewage back up into their basements each time it flooded.

"We've got folks in our neighborhood who, every time it rains, are terrified that sewage is going to back up into their homes again," said Bloomingdale Civic Association President Teri Janine Quinn.

The proposal being pushed by D.C. Councilman Vincent Orange and three of his colleagues would use public money to buy backflow preventers and sandbags for houses that the city determines needs them.

The backflow preventers would cost $10,000 each to buy and install.
D.C. Water is working on a major sewer overhaul that it says will be a long-term solution for the problems in Bloomingdale. But it won't be done until sometime in the 2020s; residents say that's simply not fast enough.

"There needs to be a short-term band-aid," said Bloomingdale resident Jess Rimington. "I'd like to see my neighborhood stop flooding every time there's a heavy rain."

D.C. Council would have to vote before the money could be spent. A report from the district budget office warns there could be complications in coming up with the funds.

Also, some residents say although this sounds like a good start, it's unlikely to be a 100 percent effective solution to the flooding issues.

"That sewage has got to go somewhere, so we need to figure out what's going to happen if we all get backflow preventers," Janine Quinn said. "Are we going to have pipes bursting?"