Northam issues order to improve flood protection

Northam issues order to improve flood protection
A tropical storm ravaged the city of Richmond in 2004. Under the governor's order, state-owned buildings now have to be built under the Virginia Flood Risk Management Standard to be protected from floods. (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Gov. Ralph Northam this week signed an executive order to improve flood protection for state-owned buildings.

The “Virginia Flood Risk Management Standard” incorporates sea rise projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

“It is simply common sense to protect against the risk of flooding, because climate change is driving sea levels higher and making storms more intense,” Northam said. “Flooding remains the most common and costliest natural disaster in Virginia and in the United States, and our state government is getting prepared. These standards will protect taxpayers by establishing critical protections for new state-owned property.”

He signed the executive order on Thursday.

Northam’s office says the new standard “applies to flood-prone areas throughout the state and continues an existing prohibition against developing state-owned buildings in flood-prone areas without a variance.”

Whenever a variance is approved, buildings must build to the new standard to prepare for possible sea-level rise conditions.

“The new standard projects ‘sea-level rise inundation areas,’ in addition to the ‘flood hazard areas’ that are currently identified and mapped,” the governor’s office said in a news release. “The order directs that state development in these areas must be elevated to a point that minimizes flood risk from tidal flooding, whether it is caused by sea-level rise, rain, or both.”

The graphic shows elevation standards for new state-owned buildings in flood-prone areas.
The graphic shows elevation standards for new state-owned buildings in flood-prone areas. (Source: Gov. Northam's office)

Flood-prone areas include sea-level rise inundation areas as well 100- and 500-year floodplains as mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the governor’s office said.

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