Updated March 26 at 12:27am

Flood-audit program needed to combat rising waters, flooding

To the Editor: I would like to thank Providence Business News for highlighting the plight of property owners facing rising waters and floods in my neighborhood in Newport in the Feb. 24 edition, "Will rising tides flood The Point?" …

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Op-ed / Letters to the Editor

Flood-audit program needed to combat rising waters, flooding

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To the Editor:

I would like to thank Providence Business News for highlighting the plight of property owners facing rising waters and floods in my neighborhood in Newport in the Feb. 24 edition, "Will rising tides flood The Point?"

As chairwoman of the 2016 House Commission to Study Economic Risk Due to Flooding and Sea Rise, I have become increasingly alarmed at the data that was presented to my commission last year. The time for action in combating rising waters in our state is now, because we simply cannot delay any longer.

As a resident of The Point neighborhood in Newport, I reside alongside hundreds of coastal businesses and neighbors in the city's waterfront district. In recent years, it has become quite common to walk out my front door during a storm, or even on a sunny day, to see several inches of water surging up the road. Residences and businesses across Newport and other Rhode Island communities, both coastal and inland, experience similar flooding due to extreme weather events, changing weather/precipitation patterns and encroaching seas. It is crucial that we do everything we can to mitigate the potentially disastrous effects of flooding to our communities. Establishing a flood-audit program will protect our homeowners and small businesses should the worst happen with rising waters and floods.

Recently, the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council released a Flood Audit Task Force Report, created due to legislation I sponsored, that concludes that Rhode Island is highly susceptible to flooding events because there are substantial public and private assets along its 400-mile-long coastline, as well as significant acreage lying within the floodplain. There are many variables that must be taken into consideration to establish a robust flood-audit program. Financial and administrative sustainability are integral to the program's success.

The task force recommends initiating the program in phases – thereby providing ample opportunity for information sharing, corrective iterations of programmatic processes and cost-effective resource distribution and sharing.

It is time for Rhode Island's public and private sectors to provide leadership on coastal and inland flooding challenges. Providing homeowners and businesses with tools to better understand and address their own flooding risk will allow them to better protect their property and investments.

Rep. Lauren H. Carson, D-Newport, represents House District 75

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