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Tidewater: Rising Seas at Hampton Roads

Water is rising, land is sinking, and the military is here to stay

Hampton Roads, Virginia is home to the largest naval base in the world. Consisting of over 80 ships, 10 submarines, and 30 plus squadrons, Hampton Roads is a district in Virginia that is sinking deeper into the ground each year. With rising seas at our nation’s largest naval base, our national security is at risk. The informative documentary, Tidewater explores the military’s most complex battle- how to prevent threats to our national security and one of the largest economic investments our nation has.

Tidewater draws the audience into its educational content by providing footage of the interior of large naval ships. The film travels through the base, showing everything from the walkway to the control panels. By picturing the soldiers, sailors, and other military officers in uniform throughout the base, the viewer is exposed to an insider’s perspective of Hampton Roads.

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As well as showing the base in detail, the film also explores the 17 districts of Hampton Roads. These districts are severely impacted by flooding 2-3 weeks of every month. The film shows neighborhoods with flooding up to windows, drug stores and churches closed because of limited street access, and immobile cars with marsh water up to the windshields. It also shows members canoeing (rather than driving) down the streets from the grocery store. 1 in every 6 citizens of Hampton Roads are related to the military, and it is the soldiers who fight for our country who are affected most from these conditions.

“The city of Norfolk, which surrounds the base, is also under siege,” states Inside Climate News. “Sections of the main road that leads to the base become impassable several times a year. Some residents check tide charts before leaving for work or parking their cars for the night.”

The film takes a personal turn as members of the Hampton Roads community are interviewed. Christine Ortiz-Gumina is married to a naval navigator, and she acknowledges how the floods impact her husband’s ability to get to the base. Without Christine’s husband on board, the ship will not be able to function to it’s full potential. Karen Speights also shares a story about a time when she was locked into her home for 3 days, unable to visit her mother or even check the mail due to flooding. Some citizens have had to be evacuated from their homes by helicopters because of the life-threatening conditions. Tidewater additionally provides footage of Hampton Roads community members as well as navy officials coming together in hopes of adapting to the environmental conditions. 

A quarter of navy ships deployed worldwide are stationed in Hampton Roads. It is a vital location for a military base due to it’s proximity to the mouth of Tuscany Bay on the Atlantic. Tidewater explores how rising seas and sinking grounds are ruining the largest naval base our country has. Both the naval base and the city of Hampton Roads are suffering from rising seas. Streets, parks, and even homes are flooding. It is up to us to save America’s largest investment and most abundant naval sector in the world from sea level rise.

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