Flooding on Sunbeam Road to be studied

Published 12:24 pm Friday, October 29, 2010

COURTLAND—In hopes of preventing another washout of Sunbeam Road, Southampton County Supervisors agreed to meet with federal and state officials to alleviate flooding created by beaver dams during heavy rainstorms.

“It’s not the first time Sunbeam Road was washed out,” Supervisor Walt Brown said during a Monday board meeting. “The neighbors believe it’s from the beaver dams.”

Brown claims there are 20 to 30 beaver dams that cause the area to flood, just like it did in late September when 14 inches of rain fell over four days.

Flooding washed away a 300-foot stretch of Sunbeam Road, which lies within a nearly a quarter-mile section of the road that was damaged. The portion of Sunbeam Road is close to where it intersects with Sandy Ridge and Riverdale roads.

The water also washed away the rock, dirt and cement that holds a bridge in place. The bridge had no structural damage.

Virginia Department of Transportation has since repaired and reopened the road from the most recent damage, which was set at about $40,000, said Lauren Hansen, public affairs manager for VDOT’s Hampton Roads District office in Suffolk.

“It’s a rough estimate because we don’t have all the bills in yet,” Hansen said.

The same area was washed out when Hurricane Floyd hit in 1999.

Brown, who represents Newsoms-area residents, suggested county officials meet with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, VDOT and landowners.

“Unless we look at the cause and effect, we will just be doing patchwork,” Brown said. “Beavers are very industrious. If we shore up the dams, in two or three years, they will be back.”