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Report says Delaware ranks high on climate preparedness

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University of Delaware/Delaware Sea Grant
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A nationwide report places Delaware in the top 10 of state most prepared to take on  climate change challenges in the future.

 

Delaware earned a B+ for how well the state assesses and prepares for risks relating to extreme heat, inland flooding and coastal flooding.

 

The report noted Delaware was one of the only two states in the country that plans for climate risks across all sectors. Gov. Jack Markell’s Executive Order 41 requires all state agencies to do this.

Susan Love, who leads DNREC’s Climate and Sustainability Section, says state leadership helped Delaware perform better than most states.

 

“The state has done a really good job of assessing vulnerability compared to other states and we’re beginning to take those plans and putting them into action," said Love.

 

Increased flooding is the biggest issue that Delaware will likely face in the future. DNREC’s sea level rise vulnerability assessment noted that 8 to 11 percent of the state will be underwater by the end of the century.

Michael Powell, the natural hazards program manager at DNREC, says in the last five years, many of Delaware’s municipalities have adopted new land development standards.

 

“Kent County and New Castle County have gradually adopted land development standards aimed at keeping new developments out of floodplain zones entirely," said Powell. "Many communities in Delaware have passed regulations that if you are building in a floodplain, you at least make sure the first floor is at least 18 inches higher than the flood level on FEMA’s map.

Adopting these FEMA recommended higher standards, he says, not only protects Delaware’s communities from the increasing risk of flood damage, but more immediately, it helps residents save on the rising costs of flood insurance.

 

The Climate Central report notes Delaware could do better in implementing its mitigation strategies.

Love adds that in the last few years, much of Delaware’s focus has been on sea level rise, since it’s a more tangible issue. Planning for extreme heat is a longer process. Delaware experiences an average of 10 extreme heat days a year. By 2050, that’s supposed to jump to an average of 50, said the report.

 
 

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