Virginia Leaders Take Bold Action to Address Flooding with Release of Coastal Resilience Master Plan 

Media statement by Emily Steinhilber, Director, Climate Resilient Coasts and Watersheds, Virginia Environmental Defense Fund

December 6, 2021
Jacques Hebert

(RICHMOND, VA – Dec. 07, 2021) Gov. Ralph Northam today released Virginia’s first Coastal Resilience Master Plan to guide statewide action to address flood risk to better protect communities, businesses and vital natural resources in the face of sea level rise and climate change.  

“Virginia has taken a historic step to address its flood crisis with bold, science-based solutions that will better protect residents, businesses and natural resources across the commonwealth. The Coastal Resilience Master Plan provides a foundation upon which Virginia can build a more flood resilient future as the state confronts climate change and sea level rise. 

“With the release of this plan, Gov. Northam and his administration are providing a vehicle for our state to understand growing flood risks and identify equitable solutions to keep people, property and vital infrastructure protected despite these risks. 

“EDF and our partners stand ready to work with Gov.-elect Youngkin and all leaders and communities across the commonwealth to ensure this plan can be put into action to meet the urgency of our flood crisis.” 

  • Emily Steinhilber, Director, Climate Resilient Coasts and Watersheds, Virginia, Environmental Defense Fund  

Background: A directive of Executive Order No. 24, the plan is based upon the Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework released in 2020. The data and strategies presented in the plan aim to increase understanding of risk, leverage nature-based solutions and increase equity for chronically underserved populations. Intended to be an iterative plan, future updates will address precipitation-driven flooding in addition to coastal hazards.  

More than 70% of the commonwealth’s population lives in coastal areas. Virginia is experiencing the highest rate of relative sea level rise on the Atlantic coast, putting residents at increased risk of flooding. Increased precipitation is also increasing flood risk statewide. Flooding is the most common and costly natural hazard in the commonwealth – in 2018 and 2019, Virginia experienced nine major flooding events with infrastructure damages totaling at least $1.6 billion. 

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