Tybee Island Creates Georgia’s First Sea Level Rise Plan – Thetybeetimes.net

The Tybee Island City Council is expected to vote on the plan on Thurs. April 14th.

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(Above: Tybee Island often floods during seasonal high tide events, such as this king tide in October 2015.)

Tybee Island, Ga. (April 14, 2016)– Tybee Island has become one of the first communities in Georgia to plan for long-term sea-level rise with help from the faculty at Stetson University and the University of Georgia. The beach community has experienced 10 inches of sea-level rise since 1935, according to a nearby National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tide gauge at Fort Pulaski. Three of the top ten highest tides ever recorded by the tide gauge occurred in October 2015. Scientists worldwide expect this trend to accelerate in the future.

A major tourism hub of the Georgia coast, Tybee Island is a significant driver of the state’s coastal economy and the nearby city of Savannah. Whether through more frequent and widespread flooding or devastating destruction due to intensified storm surges, sea-level rise has the potential to dramatically affect the island’s economic, infrastructural and environmental health.

For example, the report, drafted by Stetson University, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, recommends plans to modernize and replace portions of US Highway 80, the only road on and off the island. In 2015, the highway experienced approximately 23 tidal flooding events (significantly more than in any year in the tide gauge’s history). Those events cut it off from the mainland, proving to not only be a safety and an evacuation concern, but an economic one, as well.

“Both in leadership and risk, Tybee Island is at the front lines of sea-level rise adaptation,” said Jason Evans, an assistant professor of environmental science at Stetson University and a former faculty member at the Vinson Institute of Government who was a lead investigator on the project. “This plan analyzes how sea-level rise could disrupt economic activities on the island and whether proposed adaptation actions would pay off in the end.”

According to the Tybee Island Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan, some of the island’s most visible sea-level rise impacts over the next 50 years include:

o   Elevating city well houses. If these well houses flood, drinking water and waste disposal could be limited or unavailable.

o   Tidal backup of storm water drainage systems in low-lying areas of Tybee Island, resulting in periodic saltwater flooding of neighborhood roads and yards.

o   Increased coastal erosion, particularly on Tybee Island’s Atlantic beaches.

During the planning process, more than 4,000 people were reached through outreach and public town hall meetings, helping to raise awareness of the city’s vulnerabilities and set planning priorities.

“One of the key successes of this plan has been engaging the local knowledge that residents and community leaders already have in managing flooding,” said Evans. “With this foundation, we simply assisted the island in anticipating future challenges and opportunities.”

This research has also resulted in tangible savings. The Tybee Island Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan directly impacted the economy of Tybee Island by helping to improve the City’s rating under FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS). During the planning process, Tybee Island went from a class 7 to 5 in CRS, enabling savings in flood insurance of $3 million for property owners on the island.

Funded by National Sea Grant program, the City of Tybee Island has emerged as a model for other coastal communities across the country. The planning project received NOAA Sea Grant’s highest national outreach award and was featured as a case study in the federal government’s U.S. Climate Resiliency Toolkit. Strategies developed in Tybee Island are being implemented in St. Marys, Georgia; Hyde County, North Carolina; the City of Islamorada, Florida and Monroe County, Florida

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(Above: Dr. Jason Evans of Stetson University studies a section of US Highway 80, the only access road to Tybee Island.)

About Stetson University
Founded in 1883, Stetson University is the oldest private university in Central Florida. Stetson stresses academic excellence and community-engaged learning, and consistently earns high marks in national rankings.

 

 

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Comments

3 Responses to “Tybee Island Creates Georgia’s First Sea Level Rise Plan – Thetybeetimes.net”
  1. andy k says:

    I lived on Tybee in the early ’90’s…the fact that Tybee is now THE most progressive and forward thinking seaside government is a shock to me, but a pleasant one….yay Tybee!!!

  2. Marc Mesa says:

    This is the true nature of the climate control hoax. To put billions of dollars into the pockets of the corporactions that have grown up around the hoax. A true waste of tax payers money. Just remember in the 70s we were told we were entering a ice age. But no money was to be made there. And the “Inconvenient Truth” turned out to be the “Convenient Lie” So much so that Al Gore isn’t even mentioned anymoe.

  3. Deborah Brooks says:

    Marc Mesa,
    Please climb out from under your rock, stack up several more rocks and stand on them. The rising water is already here.

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