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City seeks solutions to rising ocean
Brunswick leaders want to learn more about the potential impacts of sea level rise, especially after being told the ocean could one day claim ground now staked out by Southeast Georgia Health System.

"It is important to have some sort of a plan and be working toward that, but what that's going to look like I don't know," Commissioner Julie Martin said. "How do you stop rising sea levels?"

The prediction by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, part of the agency's presentation on rising sea levels during the city commission meeting Wednesday, is what the state expects to happen in 100 years.

Howard Coffin Park also would be covered by water.

Planning now can help ease problems in the future, the city commission was told.

Surrounded by water on three sides, Brunswick is familiar with coastal hazards. Streets flood after a heavy rain and tides occasionally take up more dry land.

But what's happening today will only be intensified in the decades to come, the state agency said. Tidal creep will claim parts of the city's perimeter by 2056.

The situation will be even more grave by 2106, the state agency estimates. That's when the land taken up by the health system and Howard Coffin Park could be under water.

The city isn't quite ready to establish a comprehensive plan that would address the problem, but Martin says the prediction has her attention and she's looking forward to continuing a dialogue with state officials.

"I think it's extremely important that we should start addressing (sea level rise)," Martin said. "Otherwise, we've got our head in the sand."

Brunswick Mayor Bryan Thompson says sea level rise is unpredictable and he wants to plan for the worst case scenario.

The projections given to the city by the state are based on averages in sea level rise since 1935, but the future could hold a different situation than the past.

"There's the anticipated knowns and then there's the unanticipated unknowns," Thompson said.

The commission has asked City Manager Bill Weeks and other employees to maintain contact with Department of Natural Resources and to schedule a series of information gathering meetings.

The Department of Natural Resources is recommending sea level rise be a factor in the city's land use and transportation planning, among other things.

* Reporter Nikki Wiley writes about government, business and other local topics. Contact her at nwiley@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 321.



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