Tidewater explores the challenge of sea level rise in the Tidewater region of Virginia and North Carolina, encompassing Hampton Roads, arguably the region whose vulnerability most affects our overall national security. An area rich in diversity and historical significance, it is the second most vulnerable community in the U.S. to sea level rise, after New Orleans. With over 1.6 million citizens, the region is comprised of 17 jurisdictions and hosts 18 federal government agencies along with Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval station in the world and a major deployment point for U.S. forces globally. The region is also experiencing land subsidence, which exacerbates the effects of flooding. Hampton Roads requires $1 billion in urgent infrastructure repairs with 900 miles of its roads and electric grid threatened by permanent flooding. Faced with these unprecedented challenges that can only be tackled by a wide range of stakeholders, from ordinary citizens to the U.S. Navy to local businesses, Tidewater will highlight the innovative whole-of-government problem-solving model being pioneered by local leaders.
If Hampton Roads succeeds, it will mean success on several levels. They’ll save their homes, schools, businesses, the naval base, and that’s no mean feat. But they’ll also create a powerful template for success, a model other regions can use to prepare for and deal with disaster – and more: a model that can demonstrate how people, businesses and government can pull together to solve any complex problem.