Recent events launch discussion on hurricane and flood legislation

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Efforts are underway by a local member of the House of Delegates to change the way Virginia deals with the federal government when it comes to hurricane and flooding risk reduction.

Delegate Jason Miyares (R) will re-submit HB-2320 that was referred to committee and effectively killed in last year’s General Assembly Session. The bill is called the Hurricane and Flooding Risk Reduction Act.

Read: HB-2320

10 On Your Side met with the Del. Miyares to ask him why he thinks his bill was referred to committee last January.

“In the winter time, maybe they (General Assembly members) don’t view hurricanes as a threat because they aren’t off the coast like right now. It is out of site and out of mind,” says Del. Miyares.

Not anymore, not after Hurricanes Harvey in Houston and Irma up the state of Florida. Miyares notes the Hurricane of 1933 to date the highest tide of record in Hampton Roads hitting almost 10 feet.

“There was more than nine feet of water on Granby Street. We are a lot more populated now,” says Miyares, who has spent a lot of time thinking about how Virginia is prepared.

“We could go to the Army Corps of Engineers and say ‘give us your five hurricane and flooding risk reduction projects that you think need to be done right now.’ We would then work to get those projects funded,” Miyares says.

The bill would create an authority consisting of a director, a deputy director, five staff civil engineers, one staff economist and five direct administrative support personnel. The bill would cost the state $1.2 million dollars.

The named projects could help Norfolk as well.

“I am very supportive of this, but I don’t think it goes far enough. It needs to include the issue of flood plain management, flood policy, flood insurance policy, as well as emergency management. It needs to be one stop shopping when it comes to flooding,” says Councilwoman Andria McClellan.

In Miyares’ bill those areas are left to by managed by other departments. McClellan gives an example of what the Army Corps of Engineers could recommend.

“Storm water infrastructure. We have old storm water pipes and those pipes are now being covered with water,” says McClellan.

Miyares offers this, “We would be looking at storm walls for protection. Flood protections to protect us from the storm surge.”

Councilwoman McClellan also offers these examples of how flooding waters that reach over five feet can impact us.

“If we can’t get our military, and our civilians, on and off our base, that is an issue of national security. If our ports close down, if we can’t get trucks to and from the port that is an issue of state economics. If our tourism is wrecked because of the flooding water that is a huge issue,” she says.

Del. Miyares says, “The devastation would be absolutely incredible. It is what keeps me awake at night thinking what would be the impact if we got hit by a Category 2 or 3 on his area.”