Flooded street
(Photo credit: John Phelan / Wikimedia)

As seas rise and storms grow stronger, Rhode Island’s 400 miles of winding shoreline are increasingly vulnerable to flooding. So are inland streams and rivers.

The state is working to protect roads, dams, and water treatment plants that are at risk as the water rises.

“We are seeing infrastructure vulnerabilities related to climate change all across the state, not just on our coasts, but in communities all around the state,” says Shaun O’Rourke of the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank.

The bank provides loans to help cities and towns protect critical infrastructure.

For example, the town of Warren elevated electrical equipment and pumps at a wastewater treatment plant. Others may use the loans to repair or remove old dams, elevate roads, or restore coastal marshes that can help protect the coastline.

Strengthening infrastructure does not just improve safety. O’Rourke says it’s smart financially, too.

A study by the National Institute of Building Sciences found that every dollar the federal government spends on protection from floods and other hazards can save $6 in future disaster costs.

“Investing before a storm is going to have much greater benefit than being reactive and building back after a storm,” O’Rourke says.

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Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.