CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Gloria Brinkley looks at the remains of the family piano, still sitting on the front porch, the only evidence from the last time her Fernwood Farms home flooded.
“It was starting to get mildew and mold so that’s why it had to come out of the house,” said Brinkley pointing to how far the floodwaters came up. “It damaged the floors and everything where it had to be redone.”
Brinkley’s neighborhood was one of a few throughout Hampton Roads that representatives Elaine Luria and Donald McEachin traveled through Monday.
“So in Fernwood Farms, what they are really emphasizing, is to buy out property owners and just return that land to green space where they have had reoccurring flooding,” said Luria.
That’s exactly what happened on either side of Brinkley’s home. Two houses have already been purchased by FEMA and torn down, while another house is just days away from being demolished. However, Brinkley has decided to stick around.
“If they buy your house, they don’t give you enough to go and get another house so you are at a loss so maybe that’s why we are still here,” said Brinkley.
According to Luria, the government has already spent about $11 million to buy-out 38 homes.
“They just sort of want to abandon, over the next several decades, these areas that have reoccurring flooding, continuous costs to the homeowners and create a danger,” said Luria.
Following the neighborhood tours, the representatives joined leaders from across the region, as well as Florida Congresswoman Kathy Castor, the Chair of the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis, for a formal discussion about a long-term solution when it comes to sea-level rise.
“There is a certain amount of sea-level rise that’s baked in no matter what we do. There is a certain amount of temperature increase that is baked in no matter what we do. So we are going to have to adapt to that. We are going to show that we can be resilient,” said McEachin.