May 24, 2021
Late April Abord the John F. Kennedy & Andrew J. Barberi
The Staten Island Ferry
Celebrating EarthApril 22, 2021 - Earth Day
Reviewing 2020December 28, 2020
Reviewing my work from 2020 brought back a lot of uneasy feelings, especially as I went through photographs from March to June during the initial uncertainty from COVID-19. It’s really not surprising, as my catalog of photograpy serves as an unintended visual journal, but I didn’t expect the feelings to be so strong. I seemed to start the year in a creative rut, and it took the slower pace of life during ‘lockdown’ to jolt me out of it. Overall, I’m pleased with what I was able to create, document, and accomplish this year. It was a difficult year for so many, and I feel fortunate to be able to share and look back on my growth over the year.
As 2020 closes, I’m selling limited edition prints of Unicorn on Race Street, with all proceeds from the sales going to the Lowcountry Food Bank. If I sell all 25 prints, I’ll be able to donate enough money to feed a family of four for a year and a half.
Observations on Coastal FloodingSeptember 15 & 16, 2020
We’re in the middle of a ‘king tide’ cycle on the southeast coast, and the tides have been running roughly 1-1.5 feet higher than NOAA predictions (although almost exactly matching the NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service) in Charleston Harbor. The peaks of the high tides have occured during the evening the past two nights, which allowed me two opportunities to observe and document them. On 9/15, I biked around the Charleston Peninsula, and on 9/16, I remained on Lockwood Drive through the peak of the tide.
The behavior of the tides seems to vary with each event, particularly due to the weather and the winds, and the peak tide observed at the Customs House appears to have occured 20 to 30 minutes after the predicted peak. The behavior of the tides also vary among the river systems, with the Ashley River peaking later than the Cooper River right now. The tides peaked at 8.09 and 7.92 feet MLLW on 9/15 and 9/16, respectively. While this may not seem like a substaintial difference (only 0.17-feet), the impacts along the developed land of the Peninsual are significant. Charleston really is a city at sea level, and these king tides show that it’s a game of inches as to the severity of the flooding from these tides. Thankfully, there was no significant rainfall around the peak of these tides.
Surge Protection for Charleston?
The comment period on the US Army Corps of Engineers Coastal Flood Risk Management Study (surge protection wall) ends this Friday (06/19/2020). All comments submitted prior to the deadline will be incorporated into the project documentation and addressed by the Corps. I encourage you to read the report and consider submitting comments. It is important that comments are submited by Friday so that we can hopefully influence the outcome of this project. Note that the comment application limits comments to 1000 characters. If your comments are longer, you can submit them as multiple comments or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I created the visualization studies below for the Historic Charleston Foundation to develop a point of reference and scale for the proposed wall’s impacts around Peninsular Charleston. This is a significant project that is going to impact how we live on the peninsula and interact with our environment. Ultimately, I believe we do need some form of perimeter protection. However, we need to carefully look at this project and how it interacts with our natural and man-made systems holistically. The City's estimated financial obligation is significant, so the project is likely to affect many aspects of City government. We need to ensure that the City will be able to continue to provide services and implement other improvements (storm drainage, parks, etc.) to improve quality of life for the City's residents. Climate change and sea level rise are going to present enormous challenges moving forward, and we need to look at innovative ways to mitigate their impacts.
There’s a lot to dive into in the report. Here are important points that I think should be considered:
- It is paramount that the project protect the area from tidal flooding events (’King Tides’ or ‘sunny day flooding) associated with sea level rise.
- The alignment and height of the protection should be carefully analyzed and considered. Is protection to 12-feet appropriate, or should we look at different elevations? Should the wall be placed within existing high ground, or should it be in the marshes and rivers that surround the peninsula?
- The project should be investigated in a holistic way that aims to make us resilient to future challenges associated with climate change and sea level rise. A robust system that has multiple protections from single points of failure is essential.
- The project should have multiple uses and benefits. Recreation facilities should be incorporated into the permitier protecton wherever feasible. The current alignment along the Ashley River provides a significant opportunity to increase public access to the riverfront.
- The perimeter protection is going to impact how stormwater runoff flows and drains within the wall. Surface storage of runoff and other nature based solutions will help make stormwater management within the wall more manageable and resilient and should be considered wherever feasible.
- The Dutch Dialogues Charleston presents concepts for managing surface water runoff, coastal protection, and groundwater in a cohesive manner. It’s important tha this project consider and incorporate practices to mitigate adverse impacts to groundwater.
I encourage you to submit comments during this period and to stay engaged as this project progresses. There will be another public comment period in January of 2021.