Recurrent Flooding in Norfolk, VA

Erosion caused by recurrent flooding along a waterway in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk.

Erosion caused by recurrent flooding along a waterway in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk.

Even during a cloudless day at low tide, evidence of flooding was easy to see in Norfolk, VA. Patches of grass were eroded from saltwater inundation; the invasive Phragmites dominated the shoreline vegetation; and there was standing water in the streets along waterways.

“The Norfolk trip really underscored how the problem of recurrent flooding is not just a seasonal or storm-related issue,” says VCPC student Jeremy Forrest. “Sea level rise is causing the flooding to be a weekly or even daily nuisance around the entire city.”

On October 28, VCPC students and staff traveled to Norfolk, VA, to see firsthand the impacts of recurrent flooding in the city and learn about Wetlands Watch’s new sea level rise app from Mary-Carson Saunders Stiff. Stiff is a graduate of the William & Mary Law School and the Clinic and is currently serving as a consultant on policy for the VCPC. She is also working for Wetlands Watch as its Director of Policy.

Mary-Carson Stiff explains the effects of flooding along Norfolk's coastal properties.

Mary-Carson Stiff explains the effects of flooding along Norfolk’s coastal properties.

Stiff, a Norfolk resident, took the VCPC students on a tour of three historic neighborhoods in the city, including her own neighborhood Colonial Place. She discussed with the students the effects that these flooding events have on the daily lives of Norfolk residents, from impacts on businesses and transportation to increases in flood insurance. Although these factors might be thought to deter homeowners from choosing properties in coastal areas, many are still drawn to at-risk properties for their views of the water. Stiff highlighted some of these problems through use of Wetlands Watch’s new app, which allows individuals to document and map flooding. The app, which launched in September, is being used as a tool for coastal residents to take action to adapt to sea level rise.

Garrett Gee and Sean Smiley discuss what they've learned with VCPC Director Roy Hoagland.

Garrett Gee and Sean Smiley discuss what they’ve learned with VCPC Director Roy Hoagland.

 

 

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