January 30, 2014

Retreating from rising water

Local headlines during the past few years have drawn attention to the fact that Tidewater Virginia is slowly losing its battle with rising waters. Plus our coastal regions are sinking due to a complex reaction from a meteor strike in the Chesapeake Bay eons ago. Flood insurance companies are taking a hard look at insuring high risk homes in high risk areas. Some New Jersey homeowners, for instance, have seen gargantuan rises in their flood insurance premiums as a result of rising water during Superstorm Sandy. That does not appear to be a problem here yet although insurance companies have required that some homeowners elevate their homes when rebuilding. Drive through Guinea Neck and you will see plenty of "high risers" that remind me of storks with long legs. We jokingly say that our home with a wetlands area between us and the James River may be "waterfront property" in our lifetime.

Virginians are not retreating yet. But it is happening in the South Pacific in the tiny village of Vunidogolo in Fiji. Residents are leaving under their country's "climate change refugee" program. These folks are not climate change deniers. They have seen rising sea levels flood their homes and farmland during high tide. NOT storms, simply high tide.

If Fiji is spending almost $900,000 to relocate one village's residents into 30 new homes and help them rebuild their lives, we should be watching. 

Tourism is a big part of Fiji, as well as the Maldives, another threatened group of islands that are on my bucket list. Perhaps I should go visit them soon.