Special to the Mirror by Karen Jolly Davis
Hurricanes Florence and Harvey show us what the future holds for coastal communities: surge and extreme rain events that endanger our homes, our businesses and our lives. Protecting our citizens–and our assets–from destructive storms should be one of the town’s top priorities.
Cape Charles already has longstanding drainage problems. Dumping more water into an inadequate system will eventually result in disaster. And if investors believe that our town is endangered, they won’t locate here. Our real estate values would plummet, and the future of the town grow dark.
We need a detailed resilience plan, which will cost money. We need to upgrade the drainage system, which will cost money. But many resilience measures can be written into our Comprehensive Plan and zoning ordinance, which won’t cost anything except the political will to protect us from flooding.
And therein hides the real difficulty. All of these proposed efforts to protect Cape Charles are in the hands of the town council. We can apply for grants, but we need matching funds that the council must budget. Our Planning Commission can recommend zoning changes that protect the town, but the council must approve them. Our fate will be determined by the political will of our elected officials.
Coastal resilience is a public safety issue. Hesitation, controversy or indifference are luxuries we cannot afford. I urge the council to fully support efforts to protect Cape Charles from disastrous flooding, because the rain is coming.