Virginia Beach wants community input on what to do about sea level rise

(Southside Daily/Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)
(Southside Daily/Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)

VIRGINIA BEACH — City officials are asking residents to attend one of the planned community meetings to discuss the “comprehensive flooding response plan.”

Charles Bodnar, a civil engineer in the city’s stormwater engineering center, said getting the public’s response is important because the plan ultimately belongs to residents.

“Public Works is committed to keeping the citizens informed as to the process and plan moving forward and their input is vital to the plan,” he said.

Kids activities and raffles to win gift cards are incentives for residents to give their opinions at the forums on July 29, 30, 31, and Aug. 3 at various locations.

Bodnar said although the content of each meeting will encompass the same information, the focus will differ depending on the “watershed” where the meeting is held — Creeds Elementary, Thalia Elementary, Kellam High, and Cox High

Topics discussed will include studies the city has accomplished, recommended strategies, and approximate costs for flood adaptation strategies.

Other than a short presentation and table discussions at the top of the meeting, Bodnar said residents can come in at any time during the two-hour session to get the information and provide strategies that may not have been considered yet.

The city has also partnered with the Virginia Sea Grant Climate Adaptation and Resilience group at Old Dominion University who will compile and analyze the data from residents’ input.

“This Group has been assimilating information from multiple regional and national communities,” Bodnar said.

The city’s initiative to study and develop a plan for recurrent flooding and its projected increase because of sea-level rise started in 2015 after City Council approved $3 million over five years for the campaign — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management also contributed $844,000 in 2016.

According to a NOAA map on the city’s website, “Virginia Beach is in the top 10% of the highest relative sea-level rise rates in the nation.”

For those residents who can’t attend meetings, Bodnar said Public Works is accepting comments through email until Aug. 17.

After that time, the department will start developing the “adaptation plan” with the national consulting firm, Dewberry, for presentation to City Council by the end of the year.

Residents interested can send their ideas or opinions to

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Lucretia Cunningham is a multimedia journalist at Southside Daily covering hyper-local stories in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Her stories focus on public safety, tourism, and city government. She is a Virginia transplant and military spouse originally from Chicago. Lucretia also served on active duty from 2006 to 2016 and started her journalism career as a broadcaster in the Virginia Air National Guard. When she’s not covering stories on the Southside, she’s covering stories with her Air National Guard unit.