Charleston prepares the ground for intensive flood research in July

May 3, 2020

After two days exchanging data and discussing flooding around one of the nation’s lowest-lying cities, members of Charleston’s Dutch Dialogues planning project said they’re ready for a week-long research and design workshop in July.

“We’re going to come out of this Dutch Dialogues with a true vision for our community of how to address this challenge,” Mayor John Tecklenburg told about 200 people during a Thursday presentation at the Cigar Factory.

“I’m excited. I’m hopeful. I see a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “It’s going to take a while to get there, but this is really an important step for all of these things to come together.”

Dutch Dialogues is a research and design program that started in the United States after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans in 2005. The big idea is leveraging the expertise in the Netherlands — most of which sits below sea level — to help American cities better prepare for flooding and sea level rise.

Other cities have approached the Dutch Dialogues research group, but their process for selecting cities is “very ad hoc,” co-founder Dale Morris said Thursday. The group decided to work with Charleston after city leaders asked several times.

Morris said Charleston’s problem isn’t unique; many cities along the East Coast don’t have water plans for infrastructure and development. Such plans, he said, help city leaders identify which areas need more protection and determine where infrastructure investments should be made.

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