Lawmakers, Residents, Business Owners Come Together to Form “Aquidneck Island Climate Caucus”

By: Tim Studebaker

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PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WLNE) – John McDaid lives in the Island Park section of Portsmouth, along the shores of Narragansett Bay.

McDaid says, “I live in the house that my grandparents bought in 1920.  We’re the third generation to live there.”

But, there’s a problem.  He tells ABC6 storm surges and very high tides already cause problems along Park Ave in Portsmouth, and he’s concerned about what the future holds for his neighborhood if nothing is done about it.

McDaid says, “If you came down here on the day that there was a king tide, you would see water coming up to this seawall, and you would see water coming up to the level of the street in these sewer grates.  By the middle of the century, we could be seeing that a hundred days a year.”

Add a storm to the equation, and you have a serious flood threat.  That’s why state reps on the island have formed what they’re calling the “Aquidneck Island Climate Caucus,” pulling together lawmakers, residents, and business owners.

State Representative Terri Cortvriend says, “We were really trying to reach out across a diverse group of people.  Different backgrounds, really.  Not just environmentalists.”

They want to find solutions for the climate related issues Rhode Islanders are facing, both on and off the island.

Cortvriend says, “Warwick is really vulnerable.  So is Warren and Barrington.  So this sea level rise, when you look at the ‘STORMTOOLS,’ it’s across the state.”

They’ll be holding workshops this spring.  For people like McDaid, this is the first step toward a chance to preserve the neighborhood he loves.

McDaid says, “We don’t want to have to move.  We don’t want to have to give it up.  We want this neighborhood to be protected.”

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2020

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