Rising water in Hampton Roads: Economic opportunity

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Did you know the sea level rise rates in Hampton Roads are second only to New Orleans?

It seems obvious considering any time there is a major storm, rising tides seem to be on everyone’s minds.

Cheryll Sumner says during large storms and heavy downpours, the water runs toward her home along Chesterfield Heights in Norfolk.

“Other than the bushes, you couldn’t really tell there was land there,” she said pointing to the shoreline.

It’s a common story you hear across Norfolk: Living life with the water rising slowly around.

Tuesday, business and science leaders looked to turn that into an advantage.

“Collectively, it’s going to take all of us to make this the kind of resilient region that we want to be,” Old Dominion University spokesman Ron Carlee said.

The joint conference between the Hampton Roads Chamber, ODU and Inside Business aimed at using the water to the area’s advantage.

“My presentation is about how Hampton Roads can work towards creating a water technology economy,” ODU Professor Chip Filer said. “There’s some local talent being used to think about moving forward on that mitigation.”

Take one displayed project near Ohio Creek, for example. Student groups and scientists looked at the flooding problems and came up with different solutions. Some solutions were for retaining storm water, others dealt with tidal flooding.

That neighborhood is Cheryll Sumner’s. Chesterfield Heights is already seeing some of those projects on paper go into action.

“It’s not just one idea that’s going to mitigate the situation it’s the culmination of quite a few things,” Sumner said.

It is a view of the rising water as opportunity in Norfolk.