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Virginia Welcomes Public Input on Coastal Flooding Plan

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Friday, July 9, 2021   

RICHMOND, Va. -- As floods grow worse from sea-level rise and more frequent storms along Virginia's Atlantic coast, the state is encouraging communities to weigh in on a new coastal resiliency plan to stem excessive flooding.

The state plan will identify priority flood-mitigation projects for the coast, from restoring wetlands to creating oyster reefs, that absorb the impact of severe storms and surging tides.

Ann Phillips, who works on coastal adaptation and protection for Virginia, said state officials are pushing to get feedback from often overlooked or underserved communities at greatest risk of flooding.

"It's essential that we are able to get to those communities, seek and understand their interests, and work to give them options to consider for their future, as we develop a sustainable master plan process," Phillips asserted. "Most importantly, for the people, all the people, of the Commonwealth of Virginia."

She noted Virginia's Department of Natural and Historic Resources is holding meetings throughout the summer for community input on the Coastal Adaptation and Resilience Master Plan, expected to be completed this fall.

Federal data showed Virginia and other coastal states have experienced more intense nor'easters, more frequent heavy rainfall events and a rise in tidal flooding in the past 10 years.

Mathew Sanders, senior manager of the flood prepared communities initiative for The Pew Charitable Trusts, said many states now understand flood risks from these incidents need to be addressed.

"Because as we project out into the future, states are increasingly recognizing that those conditions are likely to deteriorate if they don't take action today," Sanders observed. "And I think the Commonwealth of Virginia has embarked on a fairly ambitious effort to do just that."

Research shows between 2014 and 2019, the United States endured an average of 12.6 weather and climate disasters per year, more than twice the 40-year average. Between 2018 and 2019, Virginia saw nine such events, with damages totaling about $1.5 billion.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Disclosure: The Pew Charitable Trusts - Environmental Group contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Climate Change/Air Quality, Consumer Issues, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment, Health Issues, Public Lands/Wilderness, and Salmon Recovery. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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