New partnership to help vulnerable communities combat flooding

A new partnership between Old Dominion University and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation looks to help communities in the state with flooding.

ODU’s Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience and CBF announced Wednesday the Resilient and Adaptable Communities Partnership. The announcement follows the General Assembly’s approval of $1.5 million from the state’s general fund and about a year of planning.

The partnership is meant to help underserved and vulnerable communities combat rising sea levels, recurrent flooding and create mitigation strategies.

“We are charged to take science to action,” Jess Whitehead, executive director of ICAR, said during a news conference. “We are not just going to produce some academic report, but we have to help Virginia communities build meaningful progress on building resilience for all.”

Virginia has seen high rates of flooding due to land subsidence, sea level rise and intense rainfall. According to Jay Ford, Virginia policy and grassroots adviser with CBF, this can lead to other adverse effects, including higher rates of pollution transported into waterways from runoff.

ICAR is hiring four employees for the partnership, and the university will coordinate with other organizations and use tools such as the Resilience Adaptation Feasibility Tool, which scores communities’ vulnerability to flooding, to help assess which communities are in most need.

The goal is to emphasize nature-based approaches to flood mitigation. Living shorelines can help reduce the amount of polluted runoff that makes it into waterways and help prevent flooding.