Month: October 2015

Conference in Hampton focused on rising sea levels & flooding


Elected leaders from 18 states attended

Dozens of elected leaders were in Hampton on Saturday for a bipartisan conference on rising sea levels. 18 of the 23 coastal states were represented.

The group discussed what needs to be done to prevent significant damage from severe weather in the future.

State senator Nancy Stiles said flooding is an issue in Hampton. “Not only is it destroying the road, it’s destroying the marsh so we have to figure a way to actually come together and not make this such a partisan issue,” she said.

Officials said climate change is causing coastal flooding and higher sea levels. “We have to move beyond the question, is it real? It is real. The science is there. Climate change is happening,” said Mayor Donna Holaday, from Newburyport, Mass.

The administration of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was one of the speakers at Saturday’s conference at the Ashworth By The Sea hotel.

According to NOAA, flooding has increased on all three U.S. Coasts by more than 3005 since the 1960s.

“These are real intrusions into people’s homes,’ said NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan. “These are real disruptions of businesses. These are real public safety and national defense disruption issues.”

Leaders in attendance said they’d like to see this issue discussed among presidential candidates. “The policies need to change at the federal level to support taking a comprehensive approach,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer, from Hoboken, N.J.

To tackle the problem, organizers said funding and support is needed. “I think that it’s time we stop discussing what we need to do and start taking actions to protect our coastal communities. We as state and local governments need more assistance in doing that from the federal government,” said VA State Delegate Chris Stolle.

The conference wraps up Sunday.

‘Rising Tides’ summit in Hampton is the first to focus exclusively on the dangers of coastal flooding and sea level rise

Hew Hampshire Union Leader

HAMPTON — Nearly 40 elected officials from 18 coastal states are in Hampton this weekend to share their experiences and search for common ground at a national summit on the growing coastal flood threat.

The two-day summit called “Rising Tides 2015” is aimed at shining a national spotlight on flooding problems that have worsened with rising sea levels.

“It’s not once in a hundred years anymore,” said Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Billed as the first to focus exclusively on coastal flooding and sea level rise, the summit brought together a bipartisan group of mayors, elected officials and representatives from NOAA, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Navy and Army Corps of Engineers.

The summit is being held at the Ashworth by the Sea hotel and is hosted by state Sen. Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, and Portsmouth Mayor Robert Lister, with support from nonprofits World Resources Institute and Union of Concerned Scientists.
Stiles said one of the common themes she’s heard has been what roles residents and federal, state, and local governments play.

While the officials came from different regions, they all delivered a similar message. They said coastal flooding should be viewed as a national concern and federal policy changes are needed to help the nation’s 23 states with coastal shorelines at increased risk.
“The coastal flooding issues that we’re facing are not just public safety but are also significant economic issues,” said Steve Abrams, a commissioner from Palm Beach County, Fla., whose region is still trying to cut through red tape after it was hit by three hurricanes in a 14-month period.
Some 123 million people live in coastal communities, which account for 45 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

Stiles and others called on the 2016 presidential candidates to listen to their concerns and discuss ways to work together.
In Hampton, Stiles said cottages around the marshes have been devastated by floods during high tides, especially during intense storms.

Flooding on Ocean Boulevard caused in part by poor drainage causes water to run down the street and into homes, she said.
The planning board must address those issues when considering new construction, said Stiles, who co-sponsored legislation to form a Coastal Risks and Hazards Commission.

Some property owners around the marshes have already raised their cottages, she said, but the water still floods, doesn’t drain quickly, and they may have to raise them again.
Protecting those areas is just one of her concerns.

“Personally, I think we should have done a little bit more before we did the renovations of the state properties. I think we should have thought a little bit ahead to make sure we have ways to protect those,” said Stiles, referring to the state’s $14 million redevelopment project completed in … that significantly improved facilities along Hampton Beach State Park.
Dawn Zimmer, mayor of Hoboken, N.J., shared some of the steps her city is taking in the wake of the massive flooding during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. One step was a push to stop future waterfront development.
“The policies need to change at the federal level to support taking a comprehensive approach,” she said.