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Concerns Among State Officials Rise Over Flood Funding

*VPM intern Patrick Larsen reported this story

As Virginia tries to figure out ways to address the impacts of sea levels rising from climate change, some are concerned underserved communities might not be able to access funding to help.

The Virginia Council on Environmental Justice met Friday to discuss suggestions for Virginia’s future environmental actions. The group has a specific focus on equitable distribution of resources throughout communities.

Retired Navy Rear Admiral Ann Phillips, now in charge of Virginia’s upcoming Coastal Resilience Master Plan, addressed some of the council’s concerns with flood infrastructure funding.

Some federal grants offer money for coastal communities to use on flood mitigation, but Phillips says it’s difficult to use them equitably.

“The challenge is fitting them into the needs of states and regions,” Phillips said.

These grants, which can come from a variety of sources including the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA, require localities or states to match the funding provided. Phillips says underserved communities often can’t make that commitment.

“So, our intent is to try to work state funding into that process,” Phillips said.

She added  if equity issues are not addressed, many people will have no choice but to leave their homes as sea levels rise.

“What our job is, is to give people choices,” Phillips said.

The Coastal Resilience Master Plan is due out in the spring of 2020.


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