Len Besthoff and Meteorologist Kaitlyn McGrath interviewed Executive Director, James O’Donnell
Scientists including Professor Jim O’Donnell at the UConn Avery Point campus in Groton have said sea level rise has been accelerating at a rate, where within 30 years, it could be nearly 20 inches higher right off the Connecticut coast. As an example, O’Donnell said that flooding events that occur once every 10 years at Avery Point could occur as often as every two years by 2050.
“Smaller storms will cause more flooding, right, because the mean sea level is higher and it’s that in which I think people are recognizing,” O’Donnell explained.
O’Donnell added that the frequency of flooding will damage homes and make them irreparable long before they are permanently underwater. “Consequently, if your insurance rates or your repair costs are driven by flooding then you should expect a 5-10 times increase in the cost of those insurance or repairs.”
O’Donnell suggests that homeowners in the FEMA 100 year flood zone are most at risk.
“I don’t think there’s much any individual can do by themselves, except in some areas where they can raise their home. And that’s probably a smart thing to do if you’re in the flood zone,” says O’Donnell, stressing that communities need to work together.
There are multiple strategies for communities dealing with sea-level rise…tools in the toolbox to make them more “resilient.” Some include:
- Protection-installing seawalls, fortifying sea dunes, expanding marshland
- Accommodation-which includes raising buildings above ground
- Advance-actually extending land outward
- Retreat-moving exposed people and property out of the coastal hazard zone
Even if sea level rise isn’t as severe as the direst predictions, and many of these resiliency moves may not be needed, the City of Groton has not been taking any chances. It has received high marks from regional leaders, applauding how it has taken the difficult first steps in combating sea level rise.