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New web tool provides insight into flooding and development decisions

New web tool provides insight into flooding and development decisions

February 3, 2022| February 3, 2022

Interactive tool shows how infrastructure in the area will fare in a more wet future

CHARLOTTESVILLE (Va.) The Southern Environmental Law Center has launched a new website and interactive map tool that will allow citizens, activists, and policymakers to examine how current and proposed infrastructure will perform in a more wet future when sea-level rise and climate changes will reshape the Southeast coast.

The Changing Coast This web site combines a variety of climate data into one interface. The project’s goal is to show citizens how the coast is changing and how proposed infrastructure projects such as highways, neighborhoods, government or industrial facilities will fare in an era when the water keeps rising and floods worsen.

Users will be able, for example, to see how:

  • If the sea level rises two feet, roads leading to the Mid-Currituck Bridge may flood on sunny days.
  • A proposed spaceport located on the Georgia coast could be submerged in a Category 2 hurricane.
  • A 21-million-ton pile containing toxic coal ash, on the Mobile River in Alabama, could also be under threat from a Category 2 hurricane. This threat is increasing as sea levels rise. A breach could allow toxic ash to flow into the river, the Tensaw Delta and Mobile Bay.
  • A proposed housing development of 9,000 acres in Charleston could flood if it is hit by a Category 1 hurricane. Rising seas could make parts of the development uninhabitable before the mortgages are paid.
  • Tangier Island, Chesapeake Bay, could be submerged by a Category 1 Hurricane’s storm surge or by the bay in the next two years if the sea levels rise only two feet.

Chris DeSchererer is a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. This tool and the data that it generates will show you where water is in the next few years. It will also show how proposed subdivisions or infrastructure will fare with rising sea levels. It is designed to guide future decisions and plan smart strategies to preserve what is already there.

The Changing CoastTo show how future flooding will affect coastal Virginia and North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina, designers used about a dozen databases.

To schedule a Zoom session to discuss how this tool can help your reporting on flooding or climate change, please contact Mike Mather using the contact information in our header.

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The Southern Environmental Law Center is a powerful defender of the environment rooted in the South. SELC has a proven track record in protecting the environment. It works in court, in government and in communities to address the most difficult environmental challenges. The organization is non-profit and nonpartisan and has 170 employees, including 90 lawyers. Its headquarters are in Charlottesville, Va., and there are offices in Asheville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Chapel Hill, Charleston, Nashville, Richmond, Washington, D.C.

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