Project partners applied for a Virginia Sea Grant following last year’s project: Planning for Virginia’s Coastal Resilience. The result of that project was a series of events entitled “Sea Level Rise in Hampton Roads: Virginia Beach Listening Sessions,” which were hosted in four locations in Virginia Beach to foster a community discussion on the effects of sea level rise on property values, wildlife habitat, erosion, and other concerns. Building on this work, leaders in other coastal Virginia localities, including the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission and the members of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Climate Adaptation Working Group, saw the value of educating their communities about the causes and effects of sea level rise, listening to citizen concerns, as well as the strategies which can address those concerns.
Our goal was to create awareness about the causes of sea level rise, the effects of sea level rise, and various options for dealing with the potential hazards. This workshop was a learning experience for both the presenters and the audience. We sought to both educate the public and gain insight from participants who are experiencing, first hand, the effects of coastal flooding and trending sea levels. To do this, we surveyed and polled participants about their level of awareness and opinions on planning and mitigation strategies. In moving forward we will strive to use the input of the participants to educate more residents by spreading awareness and influencing policy and decision makers on the Eastern Shore.
There was a total attendance of at more than 200 individuals. There were 114 people actively responding to the poll questions, with another 70 people filling out a paper poll; the remainder of non-participating individuals may have been state agency and nonprofit representatives. These individuals had a personal interest in the topics, as we learned that 70% own or reside on shoreline property and most have observed changes in local habitats. Eastern Shore Coastal Flooding Workshop Final Report