Regional leaders across Hampton Roads met Thursday to discuss how cities can prepare if a flood event like Hurricane Harvey were to hit.

Whitney Katchmark, Principal Water Resources Engineer for the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, said the region can take Hurricane Harvey’s devastation as a lesson.

“The sort of most painless way to get there is to start early, start budgeting and to start figuring out the smart things to do,” said Katchmark.

Katchmark explained to city leaders that cities need better public outreach campaigns, should map out structural flood control projects and residents first need to understand flood risk.

“We want to make sure people understand that there’s still a flood risk outside of that area where flood insurance is mandatory,” said Katchmark. “And there’s a lot of indications in Hampton Roads that the flood hazard maps aren’t accurate.”

Virginia Beach Vice Mayor Louis Jones said it’s up to the cities to start allocating money to prepare in case a storm hits.

“It’s necessary for the region to work as a whole,” said Jones. “But each city is going to have to take the initiative on its own to do what’s necessary in their individual locality.”