Heavy rains spur calls for relief for Bloomingdale, LeDroit Park residents


From left, D.C. Department of Transportation workers Clarence Sykes, Tonio Burnette and Daniel Ellis scrape the sewer overflow from T Street NW near the intersection of Rhode Island Ave. NW on Monday, Sept. 3. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

A D.C. Council member on Monday called on the city to establish a relief fund that would assist residents of a neighborhood often beset by flooding.

Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) said the rainwater inundating residents in Bloomingdale during Sunday night’s storms was fresh evidence of the need for District government to intervene.

“No resident should have to live like the residents of Bloomingdale have to live now,” McDuffie said.

Sunday’s storm prompted 27 calls to the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority about flooding, about half of them from addresses within the adjoining neighborhoods of LeDroit Park and Bloomingdale in Northwest Washington, said agency spokesman Alan Heymann.

District workers cleared catch basins and distributed sandbags Monday. The forecast of one to two inches of rain over the next 24 hours is not expected to be enough to cause additional flooding, Heymann said.


A car is partially submerged on Rhode Island Ave. NW during Sunday’s storm. (Courtesy of Boundary Stone Public House)

Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park, west of North Capitol Street and north of Florida Avenue, have long been plagued by flooding. The area’s antiquated sewage system has been further strained by developers adding lines to serve new housing.

In July, dozens of basement apartments were flooded by dirty water.

The authority has undertaken a $600 million project to build a flood relief tunnel by 2025. In the meantime, Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) last month announced the formation of a flood prevention task force to look for shorter-term solutions for LeDroit Park and Bloomingdale.

McDuffie, whose legislative district includes those neighborhoods, said he envisions a relief fund as a local version of what the federal government establishes when disaster strikes states, distributing money to residents whose homes are damaged.

“There are residents who have spent thousands of dollars hiring professionals to remove sewage from their basements,” he said. “Now is the time to fix this.”

Asked about the concept of a relief fund, Heymann said, “It’s something we’d have to discuss with our board before we had any comment on it.”

Paul Schwartzman specializes in political profiles and narratives about life, death and everything in between.
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