At risk from rising seas, Norfolk, Virginia, plans massive, controversial floodwall

Norfolk, Virginia, a city facing severe flooding issues due to climate change, plans to build a controversial $2.6 billion floodwall that critics argue won’t help the regularly occurring floods most residents deal with.

Project Details: The proposed floodwall is a partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and includes tide gates, levees, and pump stations.
* The project aims primarily to protect the city from a catastrophic storm by targeting storm surge, rather than regular floods.
* It’s among the many flood protection projects proposed by the Army Corps, from New York to Texas.

Key Criticisms: Advocates argue it’s shortsighted to spend billions not addressing the existing flooding problem, which is expected to worsen as climate change intensifies.
* Local resident groups are among the critics, stating that the floodwall won’t alleviate the flooding experienced during high tides and rainstorms.
* Critics also point out that the project undercounts the value of lower-income neighborhoods and does not extend protection to them.

Implications for Majority-Black Communities: Residents from several majority-Black neighborhoods such as Berkley learned that the floodwall will not extend to them.
* These neighborhoods were historically discriminated against through practices like redlining.
* In response to pushback from these communities, officials are seeking federal permission to potentially include flood protection structures in these areas, a change described as “unprecedented.”

Financial Impact: The total cost of the project is estimated to be $2.6 billion, with the federal government covering 65% and Norfolk required to find $931 million.
* Critics argue that the floodwall project’s cost could overshadow and delay planned work to address existing flooding issues.

View original article on NPR

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