The Cities of Norfolk, Newport News, and Chesapeake are benefitting from a $120 million U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development grant awarded as a result of the National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC). Funding will support strategies to protect the region from effects of sea-level rise and recurrent flooding. The Norfolk portion of the grant ($115 million) is focused on the Ohio Creek watershed, which encompasses the Norfolk State University campus and the Chesterfield Heights neighborhood. Design work will be measured against five goals: unite the region; create coastal resilience; build water management solutions; improve economic vitality; and strengthen vulnerable neighborhoods. Norfolk also hired a Chief Resiliency Officer.
Work Program Architects is part of the core design team, along with firms from New Orleans, New York, and a multi-national engineering firm. The team is charged with engaging with the community, developing resilience strategies, and taking the concepts to a schematic level. Planning has focused on reinforcing the water’s edge to protect the neighborhood from flooding with a beautiful, community-enhancing berm that includes various public amenities; right-of-way water storage under streets and sidewalks to retain rainfall; and improving pedestrian and community connections to the areas surrounding the neighborhood. These adaptations will allow the residents and institutions in the watershed to thrive in the face of rising sea levels.