HAMPTON, Va. — Governor Ralph Northam held a press conference in Hampton alongside other state and city leaders to announce the latest data coming from his 'Coastal Resilience Master Plan.'
Hampton is one of the areas where the studies are showing a risk of flooding hazards, and city leaders are working with the governor's office to find solutions.
“Outside of New Orleans, the Hampton Roads region is the most threatened area in the nation due to sea level rise and intense flooding caused by climate change,” said Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck said.
Northam announced significant data-driven approaches in his latest plan to help areas impacted by rising sea levels. He says the plan now shows what Hampton Roads may look like in 60 years.
"This is just the beginning of a long journey," Admiral Ann Phillips said, who is serving as the Special Assistant to the Governor of Virginia for Coastal Adaptation and Protection.
Admiral Phillips says now is the time to take action.
She says that she and her team are working to assess the areas most impacted by flooding.
"The number of residents exposed to major flooding grew to 943,000, " Phillips said.
Governor Northam says the project is expected to gain about $240 million dollars in funding over the next four years. He says it will eventually save Virginia money from having to repair any future damages, especially if the state can prevent these problems.
"What we call nuisance flooding is now a regular occurrence. According to science over the next 60 years, there will be places in VA no longer habitable or accessible," Northam said. "The plan also shows us, in some places, we're going to have to focus on moving people out of harm’s way."
Researchers say the next step includes finding solutions for areas most prone to this flooding.
"We'll add in rainfall models, and we'll broaden community outreach, and we'll focus on coastal areas with the most risk," Northam said during the conference.
Northam signed Executive Order #71 to keep an advisory committee working on this project for years to come.
He says he is working to discuss the future of this Coastal Resilience Project with governor-elect Glenn Youngkin, who will take over in January.