Sussex Co. Residents Gear Up For Extreme Weather - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Sussex Co. Residents Gear Up For Extreme Weather

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SUSSEX CO., Del. – The past week has brought severe weather across the nation, but luckily for Delmarva, it mainly just meant warm temperatures.

However, with more than a month to go in hurricane season, and the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy quickly approaching, some Sussex County residents are recognizing that the Eastern Shore is not in the clear just yet.

"Anyone that lives along coastal Sussex knows that this is the topic issue on your mind when the storm season hits," says John Mateyko, an architect in Sussex County.

Currently, the state of Delaware has the lowest average elevation of any state, at only 60 feet above sea level, making the shoreline particularly vulnerable to the sea level rising, and even worse, at big risk when a storm hits.

"We're not prepared, but we could be," says Mateyko."We need to get much more serious about how we're addressing this life threatening situation."

Mateyko suggests improving the structural capacity of the houses, something that many other Sussex County residents are concerned with as well.

"Right now the emphasis is on raising homes, that's our main concern in Bethany Beach," says George Junkin, Chairman of the Town of South Bethany's Sea Level Rise and Storm Surge Committee.

However, doing this is not an easy task. The "Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 20-12" is re-mapping all flood zones, meaning insurance rates could be increasing or decreasing, all depending on where you live. Some residents, such as Dr. Anne Riley who only lives about 20 feet from the Assawoman Bay, are concerned about the costs.

"It's very overwhelming," says Dr. Riley, chair of the sea level rise committee for the League of Women Voters Sussex County (LWVSC)."There's a lot of factors that go into flood insurance, and those are things most of us don't have a clue as to what it's about."

To help clue everyone in, the LWVSC is holding a series of forums about extreme weather. Their second event was on Tuesday, featuring Mateyko, officials with the Emergency Operations Center for Sussex County, Author Dr. Wendy Carey who wrote a book on natural hazards, and others, to guide residents through a range of concerns from flood insurance to disaster kits.

While raising homes is more of a long-term solution, officials say getting educated on flood insurance, and making a specific plan of action in case a storm hits, can all happen immediately. They also are urging the public to listen to the direction of emergency operations, even if it means leaving home.

"When they say evacuate, then evacuate," says Junkin.

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