With the Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay, the James River, and the York River calling Hampton Roads, Virginia, home, most residents live within a few minutes of a large body of water.
The proximity to these waterways represents an ever-increasing threat. Coastal Virginia is experiencing some of the highest rates of sea level rise and is second only to New Orleans as the most vulnerable major population center in the country. Sea level rise in Norfolk, Virginia, has risen 80% higher (14.5 inches) than the global average (8 inches) in the last 140 years. Much of the value to Hampton Roads communities is currently in harm’s way from the rising sea, including personal safety, neighborhoods, roads, businesses, the world’s largest naval base, historic resources, our cultural heritage, and our collective way of life.
Residents of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina face a crisis of not "if" they need to relocate, but "when" the rising sea levels and flooded streets will force them from their homes. The decision of when to leave and where to go is a source of contention among locals, as well as what — if anything — the local governments can do to mitigate the waters looking to swallow the region.
The WHRO newsroom seeks to engage with the most vulnerable communities, to detail their experiences and fears, and present the threats to our region in a way that is accurate, transparent, and can empower the region’s residents against this environmental crisis.