The Aquidneck Island Climate Caucus, led by Rep. Lauren H. Carson and Rep. Terri Cortvriend, will host an online forum Sunday titled “Sea Rise is Here:
Retreat from the Sea or Raise Our Homes?”
The free event, scheduled Sunday, Oct. 17, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., will feature Mark Thompson, executive director of the Newport Restoration Foundation, who will discuss his organization’s extensive experience preparing historic homes in Newport for sea rise and flooding; Warren Planning Director Bob Rulli, who will share his town’s plans for retreating from the shore, safety and housing; and Neil Hingorany, Principal of Narragansett Engineering Inc. will discuss current policy for building in the flood plain.
Pre-registration, available at this link, is required to receive a link to the meeting, which be conducted on Zoom
Global sea level has been rising over the past century, and the rate has increased in recent decades. In 2014, global sea level was 2.6 inches above the 1993 average — the highest annual average in the satellite record (1993-present). Sea level continues to rise at a rate of about one-eighth of an inch per year.
Higher sea levels mean that deadly and destructive storm surges push farther inland than they once did, which also means more frequent nuisance flooding. Disruptive and expensive, nuisance flooding is estimated to be from 300 percent to 900 percent more frequent within U.S. coastal communities than it was just 50 years ago.
How is this affecting our lives on Aquidneck Island? What are the policy options for preparing for sea rise? The forum will be an opportunity to discuss these questions with local experts in the field.
“In the Ocean State and especially on Aquidneck Island, our coastal areas hold some of our richest history. People have always wanted and needed to be near the shore. Unfortunately, that means the rising seas are putting some of our most historic places a greater risk every year,” said Representative Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown).
Said Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport), “Does it make sense to keep spending money trying to preserve infrastructure that gets flooded more and more frequently, when we know sea level will continue to rise? What can we do about all the valuable historic properties and sites located in areas that are now flood prone, such as our own Point neighborhood in Newport? These are difficult questions, and we’re looking forward to a lively discussion on the pros and cons of our options with professionals who have been grappling with them for years.”