Panel Discusses Environmental Concerns in Richmond

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Dealing with rising sea levels emerged as a top priority for the governor and other leaders Tuesday in Richmond. The Secure Commonwealth Panel met Tuesday afternoon at the Capitol.

Flooding is a major problem in Virginia, especially for coastal communities. Recent estimates project that some areas in Virginia will be submerged if nothing is done to deal with this.

Tuesday, the governor said we need to act quickly. Our neighbors in North Carolina just weathered Hurricane Arthur, and Governor Terry McAuliffe says we need to be ready for that - or worse - to hit Virginia.

"We cannot be like ostriches putting our heads in the sand. We got to deal with reality,” said McAuliffe.

In Hampton Roads, climate change along with other environmental factors have caused sea levels to ascend. The Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences estimates a sea level rise off Virginia’s coast of about one and a half feet within the next 50 years.

"Parts of Hampton Roads are sinking. This is obviously top concern for us, obviously the largest naval base in the world. All of the residents we have there,” said McAuliffe.

The Secure Commonwealth Panel addressed that pressing issue, along with emergency preparedness, keeping the public informed, and evacuation procedures Tuesday.

More recommendations will arrive at the governor's desk soon. He and others on the panel hope changes to the system won't come too late.

"So those recommendations will be to me in a month. And we got to move very quickly, this is a real - serious - issue,” said McAuliffe.

The panel explored creative solutions to work on these problems. They have reached out to businesses, real estate, environmental experts, and all types of agencies.

Virginians can download the "Ready Virginia" app on their smartphones for information on emergencies. Leaders also hope to eventually enhance that resource.

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