Tidal flooding from hurricanes and northeasters has always been a part of Norfolk's relationship with the sea. In 1693, the Royal Society of London reported that "there happened a most violent storm in Virginia, which stopped the course of ancient channels and made some where there never were any." Hurricanes in 1749 and 1806 formed the Willoughby Spit section of Ocean View, and a hurricane in August 1933 killed 18 people. In March 1962, the City was struck bye the "Ash Wednesday Storm," a massive, slow-moving northeaster which caused widespread destruction along the entire east coast. By the early 1970's, permanent flood protection for downtown was constructed.
This storm waster pump station and the adjacent floodwalls protect the low-lying areas of downtown from tidal flooding. Large steel doors at various point allow passage through the wall, but are periodically closed when tidal flooding is anticipated. Beneath City Hall Avenue, which was once a canal, is a large box culvert that collects storm water runoff from the downtown area. The box culvert carries storm water to a "sump" or pit beneath the pump station, where trash and debris are removed before pumping the water into the river.