Norfolk, Virginia is home to the world’s largest naval base. But now it’s also known for repeated flooding.

Norfolk Naval Base
Norfolk Naval Base (source: Wikipedia)

Mason Andrews of Hampton University works with her students to identify solutions – like rain barrels – that help Norfolk residents live with the encroaching water. She says the water is rising for a number of reasons. For starters, the city is sinking.

Andrews: “Part of that’s left over from the ice age and part of it has to do with bad habits of drawing down water from our aquifers.”

The city was built on fill dirt, which wicks water up from below and sinks faster than the rest of the area. And when wind blows from the northeast for several days in a row, it prevents high tides from going back out to sea.

Norfolk would be in trouble even if climate change weren’t a factor. But rising seas and more intense storms are making the problem worse.

Mason Andrews
Mason Andrews

Andrews: “Here in Norfolk we’re sort of the canary in the coal mine.”

Andrews and her students are looking for new ways to deal with the rising water. And even if the challenges are daunting, the lessons from Norfolk apply elsewhere.

Norfolk has a flooding problem, and climate change isn’t the only reason why. Click To Tweet

Andrews: “I think the work we’re doing will prove to be pretty useful for other communities that sadly have our experience to look forward to.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

More Resources
The National Resilience Initiative
National Resilience Initiative Studio Network
Atlantic Surging, Virginia Sinking

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