29 Oct Along with Mayors and State Legislators, Mayor Keyserling called for improved federal programs to plan and prepare for increasing floods as sea levels rise
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Billy Keyserling, email@example.com,843-592-0400
RELEASE: Mayor Billy Keyserling Met with Federal Officials, Joined Bipartisan Group of Local Leaders from Across the U.S. to Address the Increasing Threat of Coastal Flooding and Sea Level Rise
Along with Mayors and State Legislators, Keyserling called for improved federal programs to plan and prepare for increasing floods as sea levels rise
Hampton, NH–Along with other coastal mayors, Mayor Billy Keyserling met with federal decision-makers including NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan and senior officials from FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers to raise the challenges Beaufort faces with increasingly severe impacts of coastal flooding and sea level rise. He was part of a bipartisan delegation of local elected leaders from 18 of 23 U.S. coastal states who called for national leadership to aid communities in dealing with this issue.
At the Rising Tides Summit 2015 in Hampton, New Hampshire, Keyserling emphasized Beaufort’s long term concerns which have been presented to City Council and staff and neighborhoods throughout the city. With more than 123 million Americans living in coastal counties and generating nearly half the country’s GDP, coastal flooding and sea level rise have become a national concern. Coastal flooding is causing increasingly costly impacts on homes, businesses, infrastructure, and property along America’s shorelines, not to mention affecting tourism that many communities rely on.
“At the summit, I learned about challenges faced by cities along the western and eastern coasts of the United States,” Keyserling reported. “I was fascinated to learn the variety of issues other cities are facing and the plans underway to prevent and/or control future inundation of our communities. We talked about large cities in the northeast, small cities that were decimated during recent hurricanes on the Gulf Coast and cities in California that are eroding in the sea,” Keyserling said.
“Perhaps the most startling revelation to me was that drinking water has been permanently contaminated in parts of Southern Florida and many officials there currently see no plans to fix the problem due to the soils in the region,” Keyserling said. “But they are working diligently.”
The purpose of the summit was for officials to share information with each other and federal officials who were anxious to hear the problems and solutions being developed. It’s location in New Hampshire was to bring national attention to the candidates running for President and the national news media in a state many in the nation are watching at this time.
“It was an exhilarating and enlightening event that was non-partisan, because everyone faces the problem and participants believe that all parties must be working together on a subject much of the nation is ignoring. Furthermore, it put into perspective issues Beaufort faces,” Keyserling stated.
“The Beauforrt Port Royal Rising Seas Task Force has identified challenged geographic areas and will make recommendations and help the municipalities find solutions and funding from outside sources since the costs far exceed available dollars.
“It is clear that Towns and cities along the coasts need help from federal agencies, Congress, and other national leaders to make policy changes to support flood resiliency measures and avoid the serious economic impacts of flooding and I want to know as much as I can to ensure that Beaufort is ready and at the front of the queue with shovel ready projects when funding is made available in the future,” Keyserling concluded.
The more than 40 local leaders in attendance found that communities around the country are facing similar issues as they fight to improve resilience to coastal flooding and sea level rise. The attendees particularly cited how it can significantly impact revenues from tourism and economic development. In 2010, economic activity in shoreline counties accounted for more than 66 million jobs and $3.4 trillion in wages. Coastal recreation and tourism account for roughly 85 percent of the U.S.’s annual tourism-related revenue.
“There are several federal and state level issues that need to be resolved to protect our coastal communities,” said Jonathan White, Rear Admiral (retired) and former director of Navy Task Force on climate change, U.S. Navy. “Voices from the local level are essential for gaining traction at the national level on this issue. These mayors need support to effect change in state and federal legislatures.”
NOAA, FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers play a crucial role in helping communities address the urgent challenges of coastal flooding and sea level rise, and came to hear local concerns while discussing tools their agencies have recently developed. Part of flood preparation is working with federal agencies to both improve the way they deal with flooding disasters and make federal funding for the issue more proactive. Participants noted that funding and planning dollars should be aimed at preparing for the next flood rather than reacting to the last one.
“(Major flooding) is not once in 100 years anymore…These are real intrusions into people’s homes, these are real disruptions of businesses, these are real public safety and national defense disruption issues that are happening every day,” said Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA Administrator at a press conference. “What happens on our coasts doesn’t stay on our coasts, it ripples through our entire country and our society and economy in countless ways.”
Mayor Keyserling was invited to join this bipartisan event by co-hosts Mayor Bob Lister (D - Portsmouth, NH) and State Senator Nancy Stiles (R - Hampton, NH). A list of other leaders who participated in the day and half conference can be found HERE.
For more information visit the Rising Tides Summit.