Residents invited to weigh in on managing coastal storm risks in Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The City of Norfolk and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) want to hear from residents on an ongoing study to limit the damage of coastal storms. They are holding a public meeting Thursday to talk about possible solutions. Some of the options include creating flood walls or wetlands.

The three-year, $3 million Coastal Storm Risk Management Study looks at rising sea levels and sinking land and will consider benefits based on damages prevented, the environment, and cost, according to a copy provided to WAVY News.

According to USACE, one option could be a storm surge barrier at the Hampton Boulevard bridge with a flood wall running down the median of Hampton Boulevard.

“It lets boats flow through, so it keeps the navigation channel open, but when a large tidal event or coastal storm event comes, that storm surge barrier closes, so this — Hampton Boulevard — is one of three alternatives in Lafayette that we’re considering,” said Susan Conner, Chief of Planning and Policy for the Norfolk district of the USACE.

At the Hague, the study looks at the possibility of a permanent closure that would separate the body of water from the Elizabeth River. The USACE is also considering water retention features in green areas like Stockley Gardens to keep water from flooding the surrounding streets and structures.

Conner said the measures are preliminary.

“Throughout the city, we’ve seen more frequent and higher water events occurring, particularly over the last 10 to 15 years… If there’s any impacts that we haven’t thought about, we’d like people to bring that to our attention and before we move forward with making a decision,” she said.

The study is also looking at more widening and higher dunes on the beach — and other non-structural measures, like elevating homes or even acquiring them in some cases, Conner said.

The open house is Thursday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Lambert’s Point Community Center at 1251 W 42nd St. in Norfolk.