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Norfolk Ohio Creek Watershed

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Norfolk Ohio Creek Watershed

Enhancing resiliency and quality of life for a coastal community.

Funded as part of the HUD-initiated National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC), the Ohio Creek Watershed project aims to reduce risk from nuisance flooding and coastal inundation for two neighborhoods along the Elizabeth River. Strategies for the project are organized into three major themes: coastal defense, stormwater, and connectivity with amenities.

A coastal protection alignment, designed as a continuous berm or floodwall, encircles the edge of the historic Chesterfield Heights neighborhood and is designed to reduce risks posed by increasing storm surge due to sea level rise, reduce coastal erosion, and expand tidal ecosystems through integration of a living shoreline.

Finding or creating space for water is a guiding principle of the project. The protection and expansion of Haynes Creek, a historic inlet, provides opportunities for increased water storage, habitat regeneration, and recreation. Green infrastructure along key streets filters runoff and reduces street flooding. A pump station required to drain water over the coastal defense will provide interpretive opportunities for education and serve as a portal for riverfront access.

Resilience strategies aim to create smart investments by providing solutions with multiple benefits. A grassy area near the neighborhood's elementary school will be redesigned to hold water during storm events while also improving playing fields, upgrading playgrounds and adding a walking path. Streetscape improvements consider stormwater as well as access, with enhanced sidewalks increasing connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists. An existing pedestrian walkway to a light rail station will be widened and improved to define a safer, more accessible route in and out of the neighborhood.

Together, the proposed suite of strategies demonstrate systems and methods which could be expanded across Norfolk and the Hampton Roads region.

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