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How can Lewes become resilient to climate change? Officials want your ideas.

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
A street in Lewes that frequently floods

The state and City of Lewes are seeking public input on the environmental issues facing the town.  The goal is to make the town more resilient.

The state’s Resilient Community Partnership helps municipalities plan for and reduce hazards associated with sea level rise, coastal storms and climate change. It has helped communities including the City of New Castle and Slaughter Beach—and is now starting a planning process with the City of Lewes.

“The goal is to move forward into a situation where the city of Lewes is implementing things that make it more resilient,” said Phillip Barnes, a policy scientist with the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration, which is facilitating community discussions for the project. "And I won’t presume to know what that looks like. It’s really for the community to determine what the challenges are.”

Residents raised concerns about flooding, stormwater management and saltwater seeping further inland at an initial listening session Tuesday. Lewes currently has legislation pending that would incorporate sea level riseprojections into some of its building standards. 

Barnes says many small towns need help from the state to plan for the future. 

“What this program provides is additional capacity for a community that may lack the bandwidth—although they may be interested, they may recognize the need, … they just don’t have the resources, financial, technical, human, to do everything they’re already doing, plus this,” he said. 

Additional online listening sessions to define environmental concerns and visions for the town’s future are Wednesday, June 9, at 6:30 p.m. and Thursday, June 10, at 4:30 p.m.


Lewes residents and business owners can also share their thoughts through an online survey here.

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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