Critics: Budget cuts could harm storm preparedness, military readiness

Critics: budget cuts could harm storm preparedness, military readiness

NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- With seemingly one storm after another threatening the U.S, now is no time to be cutting disaster relief programs, according to a group of conservation activists that met Friday in Norfolk.

One speaker said there is a serious national security threat here.

Former Naval Station Norfolk commanding officer Joe Bouchard said, if something isn't done to address neighborhood flooding, military personnel can't get to work.  And he said, proposed federal budget cuts won't help.

"In Hampton Roads, about 92 percent of active duty personnel live out in town," he said. "So the Navy, the Army and Air Force all care very much about the safety of those neighborhood. And if we don't take action to protect those neighborhoods from sea level rise and flooding, the bases are threatened."

The speakers had harsh words for the Trump administration when it comes to money for  coastal management, flood planning and disaster response. They said a White House proposal would cut 9 percent for disaster relief programs across the Department of Homeland Security.

"The Trump budget cuts made little sense when they were proposed and with each passing storm they make absolutely no sense," said Skip Stiles, executive director of  Wetlands Watch.

Speakers criticized proposed reductions in funding to the EPA, the Chesapeake Bay and NOAA.

They noted that that many local neighborhoods like Tidewater Gardens are prone to recurrent flooding, which makes it hard for residents -- many of them military -- to get to work.

13News Now reached out to the Republican Party of Virginia for a response. So far, one has not arrived.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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