Norfolk breaks ground on project to tackle sea level rise


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Gov. Ralph Northam joined Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander and others to break ground at Resilience Park Friday, on the Ohio Creek Watershed Project.

“The Ohio Creek Watershed Project will make the community more resilient to the effects of climate change while also making it more affordable and accessible to live in,” Northam told the group gathered for the event.

The project connects two predominantly African American neighborhoods along the Elizabeth River, Historic Chesterfield Heights and Grandy Village, a public housing community.

Neighbors worked with city, state and local officials on the project, which builds a green space to hold and absorb water and natural walking trails that connect neighborhoods. It also includes wetlands, tide gates, road improvements and more.

“This project means … a lot to me and the residents in Grandy Village because now we can have more activities and more access to the beautiful Elizabeth River,” Raytron White told 10 On Your Side.

White, the Grandy Village Civic League president, and other neighbors worked hand-in-hand with the city on the design.

“I learned a lot, I should have a degree in this water resistance stuff now,” White said.

The plan won the 2016 natural disaster resilience competition, which earned a $112-million federal grant from HUD.

If the project is successful, Norfolk hopes to be an example for other coastal communities dealing with headaches caused by rising water.

“You’re looking at the possibility of actually being cut off from the rest of the world, you know, and I’ve seen that happen,” Chesterfield Heights Civic League President Cheryll Sumner told WAVY.

She now hopes to see water going out — and families coming in — to enjoy sports and picnics in the park for decades to come.

“I just look forward to what it’s all going to look like in the end,” she said.

The federal grant comes with a deadline, so the project is expected to be complete by September 2022.

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