William and Mary center warns of effects from coastal flooding

Sea level rise will adversely affect the Hampton Roads area in the next few decades if the state and it's cities sit idly by, says a new study from William and Mary released on Nov. 17.

Called the "Costs of Doing Nothing," the study estimates sea level rise could cause significant damage to the coast and to the local economy.

The study was commissioned by the Virginia Coastal Policy Center at the Law School, and carried out by RTI International, a North Carolina-based company.

It asserts that sea level rise by even 1.5 feet could cost Hampton Roads $38 million more dollars in flood damages by 2040 than if there was no sea level rise.

The same increase in sea level could decrease household income by over $1 billion by the year 2040. Money lost to damages would average out to around $1,760 per household.

To do their research, RTI International looked at patterns of sea storms over the years and how much damage the region took in a given year.

They also looked at the amount of damages that different-sized storms have caused in the region. Sea level rise will lead to coastal flooding, the study says, and the flooding damages will cost the region dearly.

This study is far from the first one that expounds on the possible effects of sea level rise on the area.

A 2013 report from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science says that the region can prepare for sea level flooding, but any measures could take many years to implement.

"It is our hope that the findings of this important study will help to educate members of the public and elected officials on the economic risks that sea level rise presents to the future sustainability of the Hampton Roads region," said Elizabeth Andrews, director of the Virginia Coastal Policy Center.

The full study is at law.wm.edu/vacoastal/.

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