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New Kent man unable to access property for months due to flooding

New Kent man unable to access property for months due to flooding
Posted at 11:14 PM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 11:54:43-04

NEW KENT, Va. -- A New Kent man reached out to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers after he said there had been flooding on the right of way to his property that prevented him from accessing his land since January. He believed a clogged drainage pipe was partially to blame.

"Feel like my rights been violated, took money out of my pocket," said Vernon Meredith Senior. "And I think about my ancestors, what they went through."

Meredith said he took pride in the land his family has owned since 1878. The land, stretching about 44 acres along Old River Road in New Kent, had been passed down for generations.

But since January, flooding that at some points reached up to three feet according to Meredith, prevented him from accessing his property and stretched about a quarter mile down Old River Road.

"There’s a lot more water here than you think," said Meredith, as he waded through water more than ankle-deep on Tuesday. "All this gravel used to be in the road and the road has gotten real soft."

Meredith said he hadn't seen this kind of flooding on the property in all of his 60 years. He said he'd reached out to the county and state but was getting the runaround.

"I tried talking to VDOT. I tried talking to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, tried talking to environmental," Meredith said. "And everybody was putting everyone on the runaround, so I was like let me call Channel 6. I’ve had enough."

On Tuesday afternoon, CBS 6 investigated a possible source of the problem, a drain that the Virginia Department of Transportation said hadn't been cleared in six months. But less than 24 hours after CBS 6 contacted the Virginia Department of Transportation on Meredith’s behalf, crews cleared debris blocking the pipe.

The water that had been trickling from the pipe Tuesday was gushing from it Wednesday. Within five hours, the water in Meredith’s driveway was already receding.

"Better late than never," said Meredith. "I appreciate y'all for contacting the right people to get things done."

Meredith said it was a good start to the solution, but believed he was owed money to repair his washed-out road.

"I like what we doing, I hope we can do the right thing and get everything situated," Meredith said.

He also added that he believed there could be other factors contributing to the flooding. Water could be seen being pumped from the ground Tuesday at a sand mine, located just yards from his property.

The president of the construction company that ran the sand mine said their model hadn't changed in 15 years, but added that the water they pumped from the ground eventually drained to that VDOT right of way in front of their property.

VDOT said the exact address of the clogged pipe was missing from their service request, so they had initially reported to another location.

They cleared the clogged pipe Wednesday, but were scheduled to replace it with a larger pipe in the near future "to accommodate heavier water flow from a nearby lake in the area that rises during heavy rain events."

A spokesperson for VDOT added that they appreciated the customer's patience and encouraged anyone with drainage concerns to call their customer service center at 800-367-7623.