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Gloucester's sinking zip code: The impact of sea level rise in a rural Virginia community

Sea level rise is a growing issue across Hampton Roads, but the challenges it brings are different in rural coastal communities than in the region's urban centers.

GUINEA, Va. — You don't see a ton of Guinea girls growing up to be broadcast journalists, but I was lucky enough to have that chance.

My family line — as far back as we can trace — begins and stays in this quaint, riverside zip code of Gloucester County. Four generations of my family went to Achilles elementary school.

But I've seen change there in my short 25 years, and my older relatives tell stories about an almost unrecognizable farming and fishing community on the Mobjack Bay.

Now, living in Virginia Beach, I know that flooding isn't a problem just "back home." But I was so glad to be able to tell this particular story, because the challenges of erosion, sea level rise and strong hurricanes impact Guinea far differently than they do Kempsville.

SEE ALSO: How rising tides are impacting coastal Virginia's rural communities

The hope behind my mini-documentary, “The Sinking Zip Code,” is that it sheds a light on the need to work together to find solutions for coastal flooding in under-represented areas of Virginia, like Guinea.

Because the siren call of living near the shore, enjoying the riches of the water, isn't going away anytime soon.

About the author:

Savannah Haugdahl was a digital content producer with 13News Now from 2020 to early 2023, managing content on our digital platforms but also writing, reporting and creating stories for both our audiences online and on TV. She was born in Gloucester, graduated from the University of Maryland and has reported for several Hampton Roads news organizations. She won three Virginia Press Association Awards for her work in 2017 and 2018.

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