Va. Senators introduce bill to help Hampton Roads invest in sea level resiliency efforts

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and U.S. Representative Bobby Scott introduced a bill that will establish a grant program for resilient infrastructure investment.

The Building Up Infrastructure and Limiting Disasters through Resilience Act will bolster the ability of Hampton Roads to put into effect projects and strategies to reduce threats like sea level rise and recurrent flooding.

“Sea level rise is a major challenge for residents dealing with skyrocketing flood insurance premiums and flooding not only after a Hurricane Sandy or a Hurricane Matthew but from ordinary rainstorms,” said Senator Tim Kaine. “For Hampton Roads in particular, this is a direct federal responsibility given the presence of the largest concentration of naval power in the world. An ODU study estimates that the main Norfolk city road leading into Naval Station Norfolk could be inundated by the tides a few hours per day by mid-century. That makes this not only an infrastructure issue but a national security issue.”

Hampton Roads is the second largest population center at risk from sea level rise in the nation, behind New Orleans.

It is estimated that every $1 invested in resilient infrastructure upfront saves $3 to $4 in future losses after a major disaster strikes.

“Walking around Norfolk, you can already see the very real effects of climate change as streets and buildings regularly flood at high tide. We have to help places like Hampton Roads proactively protect against the challenges posed by sea level rise,” said Senator Warner. “This legislation will provide additional resources to encourage communities to prepare now for future storms and other extreme weather caused by climate change.”

“Many communities have experienced an increase in extreme weather events, including storm surge, severe flooding, and tropical storms, all of which have severely affected our nation’s infrastructure.” said Representative Scott. “Communities in Hampton Roads are particularly at risk of experiencing these extreme weather events combined with rising sea levels.  The increasing frequency of these events emphasize the need for infrastructure investments that can guard against the impact of future natural disasters.  In 2015, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development launched the National Disaster Resilience Competition, which allowed the City of Norfolk to secure funding toward innovative resilience projects.  However, due to the number of applications received, funding for this one time competition was oversubscribed seven to one, highlighting the need for sustained federal funding for resiliency.  By introducing the BUILD Resilience Act, Senator Kaine and I are fighting to ensure that more federal funds are available to support community resilience here in Hampton Roads and in across the nation.”