CHESAPEAKE, Va. - With the proposed infrastructure bill still being debated in Washington, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said it represents a major opportunity to address the challenges posed by sea level rise in Hampton Roads.
"The normal thing of, 'Gosh, Senator or Congressman, get us some dough' - Uncle Sam is never going to be as forward leaning as they have been in the calendar year 2021," Warner told a local leaders and advocates during a round table discussion on Friday afternoon in Chesapeake.
Warner says of the $580 billion package, nearly $50 billion would go towards resiliency to address sea level rise. Hampton Roads could see a lot of funding from that as the area is considered second only to New Orleans in being vulnerable.
The area is also critical to the national security with eight major military installations, four of which are very much at risk to sea level rise.
"We need to make sure that these bases are fixed in terms of sea level rise and measuring the problem in feet and not inches," said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), who took part in the discussion.
A routine storm can cause big problems in the area, but Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover said a Category 3 or 4 hurricane could put 70% of his city under water.
"It's only a matter of time before Hampton Roads gets with hit a hurricane or another major weather event," said Warner.
Three local mayors told Warner about their efforts locally to address the issue.
"The problem stop stop at anyone's border. This is a true regional effect," said Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer.
By 2050, estimates say $6 billion in property values will be at risk, so local leaders say the time to act is now.
"This is a crisis that didn't come about overnight. It's not going to be solved overnight. It's real, and it's imminent," said Warner.
The Senate is expected to take up the infrastructure bill once again next week.