April 16, 2024

The Ripple Effect: Tide Gate Installation in Progress to Prevent Tidal Flooding in Windsor Woods

City stormwater engineer Beth Arnold shares updates about the gates being installed on Thalia Creek to protect tidal flooding of nearby homes.

City stormwater engineer Beth Arnold on bridge

For residents in the Windsor Woods area of Virginia Beach, the large crane next to I-264 east of Mount Trashmore signifies more than a construction zone. The crane marks the site where four tide gates are being built to protect nearby homes from tidal flooding.

The Windsor Woods tide gates are one of the City’s Flood Protection Program (FPP) projects. Once the four gates are installed, project manager and City stormwater engineer Beth Arnold said she will be excited to see testing begin.

“This project is going to prevent flooding for hundreds of people who live and work in Virginia Beach,” Beth said. “When we have a storm, we often have a high tide that comes with it. These gates will block the big tide from flooding the neighborhood.”

Windsor Woods Tide Gate

A civil engineer who has lived in Virginia Beach for more than 35 years, Beth feels particularly drawn to lead this project. “As a child, I was inspired by the people who worked on the Hoover Dam and enjoyed hearing the stories about it,” she said.

Throughout her engineering career, Beth worked on numerous local, state and federal stormwater management projects. So, when Hurricane Matthew caused flooding across Virginia Beach in 2016, she drove around to see the storm’s impact firsthand.

Low-lying homes in Windsor Woods are especially susceptible to tidal flooding. “It’s deceptive. You don’t realize how low it is, because you don’t see the water nearby,” Beth said.

A few years later, Beth retired after a long career in the private sector. But she quickly discovered retirement didn’t suit her. “No one in my neighborhood wanted to talk about flooding and stormwater issues,” she joked. “I really missed it.”

City stormwater engineer Beth Arnold on bridge and coworker looking over plans

Her lifelong passion for solving infrastructure problems brought her out of retirement to the City’s Stormwater Engineering Center.  

“I love the sheer magnitude of civil engineering projects,” she said. “It’s not just the size of these projects, but also the benefit they provide to the community.”

The next big phase for the tide gates is extensive testing. Sensors upstream and downstream from the gates will measure tidal flow and activate the gates when water levels rise too high. The gates are designed to open and close slowly, one at a time, to prevent water from rushing in any direction or disturbing wildlife.

“A tremendous amount of care has gone into the construction of the tide gates and getting each element just right,” she said. “There’s a lot of expertise on this project.”

The tide gates are projected to be operational in early 2025, and Beth said she looks forward to seeing that happen.

“This is my Hoover Dam. It’s different because it’s not nearly as big, and it keeps water out instead of holding it back,” she said. “I get a lot of satisfaction seeing it come together and knowing the benefit it will have to the residents protected by it.”

The Virginia Beach Flood Protection Program—The Ripple Effect—is a comprehensive 10-year plan to address recurrent flooding in Virginia Beach. In November 2021, Virginia Beach voters overwhelmingly supported a resiliency package for several key flood protection initiatives to include drainage improvements, tide gates, pump stations and flood barriers throughout the city. The projects are led by Public Works with support from a community oversight board for transparency and accountability. Learn more at virginiabeach.gov/RippleEffect.

Contact Information

Public Works Stormwater Engineering Center

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