Researchers study coastal resilience strategies for sea level rise, recurrent flooding

Researchers from around the country gathered at ODU Tuesday, to develop strategies for dealing with sea level rise and recurrent flooding.

NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- It's a sight that Hampton Roads residents know all too well.

Hurricane, Nor'reaster, heavy rain storm, it doesn't matter. If there's precipitation of any amount, trouble is sure to follow.

"We know it's flooding more and we know why," said Old Dominion University Oceanography Professor Larry Atkinson. "I think the science and engineering, frankly, is pretty straight forward. It's how to react to that and respond to it is the challenge."

Thus, this national, coastal resilience strategy session involving scholars from various disciplines from 16 colleges and universities, believed to be the first ever such gathering.

"Sea level rise is a threat," said College of William and Mary Law School Coastal Policy Director Elizabeth Andrews. "Recurrent flooding in general is a threat. But it's also an opportunity. It's an opportunity or all of us to get together and plan for it. And that's why we're excited about this event."

It is, of course, an acute problem here in Hampton Roads, home to a dozen crucial military installations. A 2016 study from the Center for Climate and Security found the impact of sea level rise on readiness at those bases could be dire.

"Sometimes tidal flooding becomes an issue that just getting people to work, and it becomes when you're talking about a military population and the civilian work force that supports that military, it becomes very much a military readiness issue," said ODU Resilience Project leader Wie Yusef.

Another challenge is the political one, and fighting skeptics in Washington. However, session participants vow they'll keep trying,

 "It's scary.," said Hampton University Architecture Professor Mason Andrews. " it's frustrating. But in the meantime, we just keep putting one damp foot in front of the other and try to find way to stay here a little longer."

Virginia Institute of Marine Science Associate Dean of Research  Mark Luckenbach  said he's upbeat about the collaboration between universities, and the fact that the discussion isn't about  studies in laboratories, but,about direct applications of lessons learns to affected communities.

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