Tuesday, February 09, 2016, GoLocalProv News Team and Kate Nagle – Parts of Newport including the historic Point section are underwater on Tuesday, February 9, following two rounds of snowstorms accompanied by high tides — and the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) is one of the local organizations working to address the issue.
“This happens from time to time, and I gather that the tide was about two feet over normal,” said Pieter Roos, NRF Executive Director. “It’s happened a number of times over the past four or five years.”
“It’s clearly tied to the tide, the house that we have on Second and Bridge — the basement floods regularly, anything over normal, really. I don’t know if it’s mechanical or just related to the tide,” said Roos.
“It’s getting in somewhere. I’m not trying to be critical of the city, but it’s something we’re all facing with rising sea levels.
Roos said that Newport is “not alone” in facing increased flooding.
“We’re seeing it up and down the eastern seacoast,” said Roos. “At least we’re on rock. Annapolis [Maryland] used to flood to two to three times a year, now it’s every other week,” said Roos. “They think in twenty years they’ll see flooding every other day. ”
The Newport Restoration Foundation is hosting a conference in April to deal specifically with the issue of flooding in historic areas — and will have participants from all over the country, and world, taking part in groundbreaking forum.
“It’s called “Keeping History Above Water,” said Roos of the conference. “It’s the first international level conference that’s dealing specifically with the issues of sea level rise, climate change, and how affects historic preservation. We’ve got folks coming from Italy, Scotland, Netherlands, Iran — who would have thought the Middle East, but they’re dealing with it as well — Annapolis, Florida, and New York City, which had a major problem with [Hurricane] Sandy as we know. Senator Whitehouse is doing to the keynote one of the nights.”
Newport Restoration Foundation will be hosting a conference on flooding — and historic preservation — in April.
“We’re doing it in partnership with the National Trust and Union of Concerned Scientists,” said Roos. “I think what’s different about this conference, I’ve seen a lot of conferences that scare the living daylights out of you but didn’t help. We’ve always had a very practical bias [at the NRF]. So the first day we’ll scare the pants off you — it’s called “Postcards from the Edge” — but the second day is potential solutions — and third day will be working groups.
Roos noted what he said are “things people can do right now” who live in vulnerable areas.
“There are things the city can probably do, and definitely things that homeowners can do,” said Roos. “We had a charette about three weeks ago, the concept of it was to look specifically at that property at 74 Bridge Street — and how you make a house like that more resilient.”
“Moving mechanics out of basement is a good idea — moving appliances up to second floor, such as the washer and dryer,” said Roos. “You can get a high efficiency boiler and get that on the first floor, and actually move it up closer to ceiling — your house would have to flood by three to four feet in that case. Easily removable wiring — you can do a lot a of things. If you have flooding once, you can change a number of things to be protected for when it happens again.