Gabriela Igloria: OK, so first, what’s your name?

Luna Magpili: Luna Magpili.

GI: And how old are you?

LM: I am 50.

GI: OK, and then, what neighborhood or area of Norfolk do you live in, and how long have you lived there?

LM: So, I live in the Larchmont neighborhood since 2007, so that’s what, 23 plus—

GI: I’m not good at math—

LM: —7, 30 years, 30 years.

GI: Wow.

LM: Yes, it’s a long time.

GI: Have you only lived here, or…?

LM: Oh, we did live at West Little Creek Road and there, like probably two years there, but mostly, mostly here in Larchmont—

GI: Mm, mostly here.

LM: —near the ODU, Old Dominion University.

GI: Yeah, and then, is there a body of water close to here, where you live?

LM: Yes, there’s the Chesapeake Bay right here, at the back of us.

GI: And so, between the two neighborhoods that you’ve lived in, where would you say the flooding has been the worst that you’ve experienced?

LM: Definitely here.

GI: Yeah?

LM: Here in the Larchmont neighborhood.

GI: And how have you experienced flooding in your neighborhood? What sorts of things have you seen if you can tell me a bit about that?

LM: Yeah, so the roads typically get flooded, Magnolia Street here would get flooded, Powhatan, near ODU would get flooded, and so, you will do a lot of detouring if you were going to go in and out of the neighborhood. And it has happened in the past, where there was just no way to get out, that’s how much the flood would be. And if you want the details—

GI: Mm-hmm [affirmative]…

LM: —we have had this really bad experience because which one…? Hampton Boulevard would also get flooded, and Ella’s daycare was at the corner of Hampton Boulevard, and you know what street is that goes off of Hampton Boulevard—

GI: Is that the one on ODU campus?

LM: Um…

GI: —on 45 th Street maybe…?

LM: Is that the 45 th Street? I’m blanking on the road, but I’ll remember it later—

GI: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LM: —because we don’t go there so much anymore, so I forgot. It becomes Colley, it becomes Colley, yeah and Colley Avenue. And so, her daycare was there, and it was so flooded on Hampton Boulevard that we couldn’t go and pick her up.

GI: Oh…

LM: We had to go all around Granby Street, I think it’s what we had to go through to get to her, and then, even when we did that, we couldn’t park close enough, we had to wait in the flood waters to actually pick her up, so…

GI: How high was it?

LM: It was maybe up to, not up, almost up to the knees, that’s how…

GI: Oh, no.

LM: Yeah, so that was a long time ago, though. I know that they did something with the road and moved it higher up, yeah, but at that time, it was just impossible to go through.

GI: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I’ve definitely witnessed that too. I remember being Downtown before, and it was I think up to my waist because I’m short.

LM: Yeah, Downtown is really—

GI: Yeah…

LM: Downtown it can really… yeah, that part, Granby—

GI: Mm-hmm [affirmative]…

LM: Downtown onwards, yeah…

GI: And then, can you share a little bit about how you prepare for flooding or how you prepare for things like hurricanes that kind of exacerbate the effects of flooding here?

LM: Right. So, well, for one thing, we kinda know which streets flood, so if you need to go anywhere, we know what streets to avoid. We got the bigger car, the SUV, so that we wouldn’t have to worry so much going into the flood because in the Philippines, we kind of also have that experience, and we do that, we avoid those streets during any hurricane or possibility of kind of being stuck here with the flooding. We usually prepare by buying food and water, making sure we can hunker down as long as needed, as it’s needed, but we have evacuated, too. So, when there is any evacuation order, we leave, so that’s kinda what we do.

GI: Where do you go when you evacuate?

LM: We have good friends, and then, Rachel, my sister also lives in Virginia Beach, where it doesn’t get flooding as bad as here, so sometimes, we go there, too, but you know, inland is where we go to, mm-hmm [affirmative].

GI: So, not too far, or how far would you say-?

LM: Well, it depends on—

GI: —is reasonable?

LM: With one evacuation that we did, even my sister evacuated. I don’t know which storm it was though, I don”t remember, but we went to Richmond to evacuate over there.

GI: Oh, my gosh.

LM: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm [affirmative].

GI: Wow.

LM: And there’s one time also, we went to Charlottesville, I think, it’s where we evacuated.

GI: Yeah, that is far.

LM: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

GI: Yeah.

LM: Well and northeast or even if it’s not a storm, will get you the flooding, too.

GI: Absolutely, yes. I’m wondering about when you first came to live here in this neighborhood, how did you know how to prepare? Did you know at all what to do when you first moved here?

LM: Well, I think again, coming from The Philippines with all the floods there, it wasn’t that bad for us because there, you also get flooding up to you know…?

GI: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

LM: We did have flood insurance for a while.

GI: OK, good.

LM: So, we’ve always had flood insurance until this year or last year because we are kind of planning on moving, so yeah…

GI: Yeah, did you feel like the flood insurance made a big difference for…?

LM: Oh, for sure. I would recommend flood insurance, but it’s getting more expensive. Our home, we’re lucky because my home does not require flood insurance, while all my other neighbors do.

GI: Oh, my gosh.

LM: Just because this is a little bit up, so then height wise, we’re a little bit up, so this particular house is not required, but knowing that you can still be an island, they just still require people to get the flood insurance. So, even if the flood doesn’t hit us, we’re like an island, we can’t get out, mm-hmm [affirmative].

GI: Yeah, you’re just lucky that you have the flood insurance because for a lot of people, they might not have any, especially depending on—

LM: Where you’re located…

GI: Yeah, where they’re located—

LM: Yeah, mm-hmm [affirmative].

GI: —and housing and income, and so, I’m wondering, is-

LM: Mostly it’s required here, most of the houses here, it’s required.

GI: Yes, for sure, and so how well do you think, if you didn’t have flood insurance, how well do you think that you’d be able to rebuild after a flood?

LM: Oh, it will be extremely difficult if you don’t have flood insurance, and so again, that’s almost like a must if you’re living in Larchmont neighborhood for sure, you would have to have that. We do have savings, and so, we can use that to do the rebuilding, but the other thing is, well, me and my husband, we talk about this is, you know, whatever possession we have, is it something that—are we—how do you call that? We’re not too attached to our material possessions and so, all of this is fine if it got flooded, it’s you know… yeah…

GI: Yeah.

LM: So, my mom passed away, and we have her urn here, and we have been thinking: “OK, where are we going to bury her?” And we were kind of thinking: “Do we want Norfolk?” Because we don’t know if—

GI: Right.

LM: —Norfolk is still gonna, I mean, gonna be around, you know? And then, also thinking of Virginia Beach or maybe, we’re thinking inland, so you know how those kinds of things, you have to think about now?

GI: Yeah.

LM: I mean, seriously, right?

GI: Yeah, yeah.

LM: Where am I gonna bury our dead? And we’re also planning—well, for us, where are we going to think about—and well, considering climate, we’re actually considering climate change, where we’re gonna choose to buy a plot for that, so I don’t know if that’s—

GI: No, that’s—

LM: So, that’s something…

GI: It’s a very real concern.

LM: Exactly, exactly.

GI: Yeah, it is—

LM: And you wouldn’t think you’d have to think about that.

GI: Right.

LM: Yeah, so…

GI: Well, thank you for agreeing to do this.

LM: Oh, of course.

Interview with Luna Magpili