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Alexandria neighbors clean up after flooding once again impacts communities

One neighbor said this is the fourth time her basement has flooded in three years -- and she wants the city to take immediate action.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Alexandria neighbors are frustrated after overnight storms lead to flooded backyards and basements ... for the fourth time in three years. 

Amber Lyons again found herself having to rip out walls and clean up sewage in her basement — now an annual tradition after buying her home in 2018.

She and other Del Rey neighbors said they didn't realize how much of a problem flooding would be in their neighborhood when they bought their homes. Now, they've sunk tens of thousands of dollars into repairs.

“This is the fourth time that my basement has flooded," Lyons said. “And it's really hard because I bought this house actually so that my mom could move in here with me, and I turned the basement into an apartment for her. So we've since had to move her out into a different apartment so that she's not getting flooded out all the time.”

This time, Lyons said her basement "only" got about eight inches of water — compared to up to two feet the last few times.

Now, every time it rains, she said, "It's like pure panic actually, anxiety."

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Lyons and her other neighbors on Mason Avenue said they believe the source of the flooding is sewage drains in the alley lining the back of their houses.

"[It] fills up too much with water and then literally like kind of tidal waves over into the basement," she said. "And then additionally, we get back up in the toilet and the bathtub."

Her neighbor, Achille Parmentier, points to outdated infrastructure as the main issue as they all lament how frequently these "100-year floods" are coming.

Alexandria officials have acknowledged that the city has experienced more frequent and severe flash floods recently, and have launched "Flood Action Alexandria" to try to minimize the issues caused by the flooding.

Part of the plan includes investing American Rescue Plan Act funding into drainage improvements and culvert cleaning.

It's one step, but neighbors said it doesn't help them now — so many have taken it upon themselves to install solutions.

“We know that the water is coming from back here into our walkway," Parmentier said. "We decided to just, you know, build out some kind of wall … at least for us this worked. This was a success.”

It didn't work for Lyons. 

She doesn't want to move — she loves her neighborhood — but she's at a crossroads.

“I don't know what to do anymore," she said. "I'm kind of, you know, at that limit of like, what do I do now? Please help.”

Starting August 30, Alexandria is opening up an application for neighbors who built their own flood mitigation measures to apply for a reimbursement grant of up to 50% of the cost or $5,000.

RELATED: Damaging coastal flooding over the weekend leaves Old Town Alexandria left with the aftermath

Other parts of Virginia also saw some major flood damage. Rosy Bell, who lives in Falls Church said their crawl space and car port got up to two feet of water overnight. 

Bell said they just moved in Oct. 2020, and the creek in front of their house has flooded three to four times. Bell said they learned after move-in that the place had flooded in majorly in 2019 and 2020.

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