Today I traveled to Virginia Beach to participate in a forum addressing impacts and planning for recurring and increased flooding in the region. The event, titled "Resilience: Imperative Initiatives Taking Shape in Hampton Roads" was hosted by Inside Business and moderated by WHRV 89.5's Cathy Lewis. Panel speakers were very informative, and included Christine Morris (Chief Resilience Officer, City of Norfolk), Rick Weddle (President & CEO of Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance) and Paul Olsen (Director of Programs and Partnerships, Old Dominion University).
The overarching theme of the day was acknowledging that Resilience wasn't even discussed a decade ago; now, it is an absolutely critical consideration for businesses and residents of our region. "Companies location decisions must include risk mitigation" said Weddle. "[They must think] how may things go wrong." He also struck a somber tone for those that want to avoid the issue. "Failure to face this over time will be a deal killer. The whole regional economic system would be at risk."
Certainly that is one of the reasons I am so passionate about digging in on this. It is easy to avoid an issue that lurks in the shadows, and isn't staring you in the face on a daily basis. I would argue that flooding is getting noticebly worse and more frequent. It takes courage to go after issues that others consider a political risk. I carry no such burden of alienation for fear of how it may affect my political aspirations. I pursue such issues with conviction, because it is the right thing to do.
Morris then brought us to the realm of possibilities. "We want to create a city that can handle this change. Evolve," she said. "If we get it right, there will be economic opportunities. It is important we get this right."
Weddle continued with the forward-thinking. "[This presents] a tremendous set of opportunities. We will either be a purchaser or seller [of the solutions]," he said. "They will be significant." He also opined that if we get the public policy right, then the market can function. I couldn't agree more!
Olsen, a fellow veteran and Wisconsinite, said "This is a bipartisan issue." Come November, I am confident we can consider it a tripartisan issue. "The state must take on this leadership role," he continued. "Strong state leadership is not only important, it is critical."
As your delegate, I will seek counsel from such vested parties with tangible, actionable intel. Your delegate will need to be well armed to take this fight up to the General Assembly, and I intend to do so.
- Terry Hurst, Candidate, 89th District House of Delegates