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New Fund Aims to Ease Virginia Flood Damage

Virginia has seen an increase in flooding over the past 10 years, including this flood in Allegheny County in 2016. (Virginia National Guard)
Virginia has seen an increase in flooding over the past 10 years, including this flood in Allegheny County in 2016. (Virginia National Guard)
June 15, 2020

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Virginia has experienced more than 10 major flooding catastrophes in the past decade, and a new state fund could offer flood-prone communities the ability to protect themselves.

This year, the General Assembly passed the Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund, which will provide low-interest loans and grants for flood relief projects across the Commonwealth. Yaron Miller, officer with the Flood-prepared Communities Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts, said flooding is Virginia's most common and costly natural disaster.

"We've seen flooding this year force evacuations, disrupt lives and damage homes and businesses," Miller said. "This program is especially important because it will allow localities to start and complete projects to help neighborhoods that repeatedly flood."

He added the program will prioritize projects that use natural solutions to reduce flood risks. This could include restoring wetlands to absorb storm water and creating green spaces to capture runoff.

George Keating is president of the civic association in the Waverly Hills neighborhood of Arlington. He said flooding in his neighborhood has gotten so bad, the area had to declare a state of emergency after a major storm last summer.

He said the fund is a practical solution to this issue, whether communities are suffering from coastal flooding or rising rivers.

"It brings a new source of funding that I would hope Arlington uses as they seek a solution to the extensive stormwater flooding that occurs throughout Arlington in any heavy storm," Keating said.

An estimated $45 million a year will go into the flood preparedness fund. This will come from new revenue generated from carbon auctions through Virginia's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.



Diane Bernard, Public News Service - VA