February 22, 2024

The Ripple Effect: Five Things Residents Should Know About Coastal Flood Vulnerability

Part of coastal living is understanding factors that make our community vulnerable to flooding.

Coastline at Sandbridge

Understanding the unique challenges of coastal flooding and Virginia Beach's vulnerability to such events is the first step in managing risk. By understanding these factors and learning about available resources, we can better prepare ourselves and our community for potential flood threats.

Here are five key elements that Virginia Beach residents should know about flood vulnerability.

Geographical Factors and Storm Surges

Virginia Beach’s geographical location along the Atlantic Ocean makes it susceptible to coastal storms and hurricanes. These weather events bring the threat of storm surges, which are rapid rises in water levels that can result in significant flooding.

Residents must be aware of the potential risks associated with these events, including the importance of staying informed through local weather updates and following evacuation protocols when necessary.

Rising Sea Levels and Long-Term Impacts

Rising sea levels pose a significant concern for coastal communities, including Virginia Beach. As sea levels continue to rise, higher water levels and potential storm surges increase the risk of coastal flooding.

Residents should stay informed about sea level rise projections and the long-term implications for their properties, businesses, and neighborhoods. Understanding the need for adaptation and resilience-building measures goes a long way to help mitigate potential damage in the future.

Coastal Erosion and Beach Nourishment

Coastal erosion is an ongoing challenge in Virginia Beach. The natural movement of waves and currents gradually erodes the coastline, leaving beachfront properties and infrastructure vulnerable to flooding. However, the City has implemented beach nourishment projects to combat erosion.

Residents should understand the importance of these projects, which involve replenishing eroded beaches with fresh sand. Supporting and participating in such initiatives can help protect our coastlines and minimize flood risks.

Impact of Development and Infrastructure

As Virginia Beach grows, it is essential to recognize the impact of development and infrastructure on flood vulnerability. The construction of homes, businesses, and impervious surfaces can disrupt natural drainage systems and exacerbate flood risks.

Residents should be mindful of responsible development practices, such as incorporating green spaces, utilizing permeable surfaces, and implementing effective stormwater management strategies. Engaging in community discussions and local planning efforts can help shape sustainable development and reduce flood vulnerability.

Community Resilience and Preparedness

Building a resilient community starts with individual preparedness. Residents should take proactive measures to protect their homes and businesses from potential flood damage. This may include elevating structures, floodproofing, securing important documents, and having emergency kits readily available.

Additionally, understanding evacuation routes, community shelters, and local emergency protocols is vital in ensuring personal safety during flood events. By actively engaging in community preparedness initiatives and staying informed, residents can contribute to the overall resilience of Virginia Beach.

Learn More and Take Action

Residents can access a wide variety of information and resources about flood protection projects currently underway in the City of Virginia Beach at virginiabeach.gov/RippleEffect.

To learn more about your risks, your evacuation zones, flood insurance, and how to prepare and protect your property visit the City’s Emergency Preparedness page on flooding.

The Virginia Beach Flood Protection Program—The Ripple Effect—is a comprehensive 10-year plan to address recurrent flooding in Virginia Beach. In November 2021, Virginia Beach voters overwhelmingly supported a resiliency package for several key flood protection initiatives to include drainage improvements, tide gates, pump stations and flood barriers throughout the city. The projects are led by Public Works with support from a community oversight board for transparency and accountability. Learn more at virginiabeach.gov/RippleEffect.

Contact Information

Public Works Stormwater Engineering Center

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