DNREC Prepares Delaware For Sea Level Rise - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

DNREC Prepares Delaware For Sea Level Rise

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LEWES, Del. - Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and environmental control has some figures showing when they estimate a huge portion of the first state will be underwater.  Which is why they're focused on preparing people now.

"You can't wait until the last minute and say 'Well, how did this happen?'"  That's exactly why Rehoboth resident Joan Decandina and more than a hundred others made their way to DNREC's forum on how sea level rise effects the first state.

It a topic on many people's minds.  Less than 24 hours before this meeting, President Obama even discussed the effects of climate change in his State Of The Union address, saying:

"It's true that no single event makes a trend.  But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15.  Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods, all are now more frequent and more intense.  We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence.  Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgement of science and act before it's too late."

Experts in the First State, say the problem could be worse in states along the Eastern Shore.  Susan Love, a planner with Delaware Coastal Programs believes "here in Delaware and in Maryland and Virginia and New Jersey, the problem is twice as bad because in addition to the water rising...we're sinking!  So, the rate of sea level rise here is twice the global rate."  This is why she and other experts say 11% of Delaware could be underwater in less than 100 years.

The year 2100 may seem too far off to worry, but according to experts, this is a perfect time to plan.  That's why DNREC has developed multiple proposals on how the state can adapt to this impending change.  "Everybody recognizes that sea level rise is an issue, how to deal with it is something we have some debate about," says Love.

One way they're dealing with it, DNREC has developed grants for local governments to start building up their cities and towns to prepare for flooding.  One of the more controversial proposals, one requiring anyone selling a property to warn buyers the home could be victim of future sea level rise.

This had Joan Decandina  up in arms, "my concern is that a lot of people are gong to get hurt.   A lot of people won't be able to sell their homes," worries Joan, "A lot of people won't be able to sell their homes, consequently, if they won't be able to sell their homes, what's going to happen is the price is going to go down, they won't even be able to get it for the price they bought it for, they may have a mortgage and then and they could get seriously hurt."

Rehoboth resident Geary Foertach isn't completely sold on the science of sea level rise, but he says if things are happening the way some scientists claim, he's ready to make some changes.  "If it is real, obviously we have to adapt, I'm not opposed to that.  I mean, that's what we are...that's what we do.  That's what human beings do, we adapt."

DNREC and is still interested in hearing the public's opinion on it's more than 61 different preparation proposals.  They're all available at de.gov/adaptationengagement.  Comments will be accepted until March 14, 2013.

There will be two more public engagement sessions on adapting to sea level rise on the dates below.

Feb. 19, 2013
4:00pm - 7:00pm
New Castle School
New Castle, DE

Feb. 25, 2013
4:00pm - 7:00pm
Kent County Levy Court Complex
Dover, DE
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