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Jun 02

[ARCHIVED] ‘Tidewater’ Calls Attention to Sea Level Rise through Military Perspective

The original item was published from June 2, 2017 10:12 AM to June 2, 2017 10:13 AM


Award winning filmmaker Roger Sorkin specializes in films that explore the complex relationship between energy, national security, and the environment. Last week, Sorkin presented his 45-minute film, Tidewater, to arguably his most critical audience, Hampton Roads residents. The film is a product of the American Resilience Project, a non-profit founded by Sorkin that promotes climate resilience, adaptation, and mitigation policies by building strategic relationships and engaging citizens and policymakers through film. 

Home to 17 different localities, 18 federal agencies, 14 military installations including the largest naval base in the world, a cluster of harbors and ports, and 1.6 million citizens, Hampton Roads serves as a national security hub and economic engine for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The water our region is built upon has provided all of these opportunities. However, the water also comes with challenges like tidal flooding that is becoming more frequent because of sea level rise. Sorkin met his match with the complexity of Hampton Roads as he set out to unravel the conundrum of impacts of sea level rise nationally on the military, civilians, and how we can solve it.  

Norfolk’s resilience efforts are recognized throughout the film. Two of our City Council Members, Andria McClellan and Mamie Johnson, are featured in the film working to put flooding and sea level rise on the regional agenda. Christine Morris, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Norfolk, is featured in the film speaking about the importance of building resilience across the city resident by resident. A Norfolk resident of the Chesterfield Heights neighborhood is also featured in the film purchasing her mother a life jacket in case they have to evacuate their home during a flooding event. The City of Norfolk in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Virginia won a  115 million dollar grant to implement resilience projects in the Chesterfield Heights area to reduce flooding. The project is currently in the planning stage.    

Current and retired military leaders also are  featured in the film. They discuss the strain that sea level rise puts on the military. When it floods, military and civilian workforces cannot make it to the bases as roads quickly become impassable. Electricity to the navy piers is cut off to protect the electric grid. These may seem like small inconveniences, but as they accumulate they degrade military readiness and operations overtime. The film reveals the longtime efforts the military has made towards becoming more resilient, but emphasizes the need for more collective action, regionally and nationally. 

After the film ended, the event wrapped up with a panel discussion and Q&A moderated by WHRO’s Cathy Lewis. 

Overall, Sorkin’s unique delivery of the issues in his films has proven to captivate the audience and trigger collective action. With ‘Tidewater’, he hopes to put Hampton Roads on the national agenda as a serious national security topic. 

Tidewater OFFICIAL TRAILER from Roger Sorkin on Vimeo.