Joe's Job: Closing floodgates with Public Works crews

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by Joe Flanagan, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 28 at 6:06 PM

NORFOLK--When waters rise, Public Works crews have to close five floodgates in downtown Norfolk.

Joe was training with Ray Snedecor and the crew at Norfolk Public Works along Boush Street and Waterside Drive.

They showed Joe how they remove heavy metal plates which reveal a track that the wall will ride on.

The Army Corp of Engineers built the floodgate years ago and turned it over to the city of Norfolk.

Time and time again it has prevented severe flooding.

"I am going to do about thirty more seconds and then turn it over to the more experienced guys,"Joe said.

The large floodgate in front of the USS Wisconsin is only about 15 years old and easier to handle.

"We've shut these things in the middle of hurricanes before. You know, blowing wind and rain. Working for storm water, that's the key thing, you are going to get wet," said Snedecor.

These crews can get paged at all hours to set these five gates.

"So far I haven't found nothing I don't like. It keeps me busy, keeps me going," said mechanic Chris Taylor.

The other floodgate Joe worked on was behind the World Trade office building.  He explained that it was the same principle of metal plates, a track and a lot of cranking.

"Ray told us the quickest they ever did all five gates was thirty minutes. That is really fast work," Joe said.

"What is difficult is if one of those gates binds up we are going to be out here for awhile because we got to get them closed," said mechanic Eric Speller.

Joe said the crew seemed to like the variety of their  job.

"We can be doing electrical work one day and some pipe work tomorrow. Today we are doing flood walls," said Snedecor.

When bad weather comes, these public works crews leap into action.

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