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Daily Floods Could Plague Annapolis In 50 Years, Historic Preservation Chief Says

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Annapolis has a dual distinction. It's one of America's most historic cities, and one of the most flooded.

Alex DeMetrick reports, keeping that history above water is a challenge that grows as sea levels rise.

Fifty years ago, Annapolis would experience four or five "nuisance floods" per year.

"Now we are almost 40 times a year, and within 50 years it will be at least once a day, if not more," says Lisa Craig, the Annapolis Historic Preservation chief.

Sea level rise is the reason, and a lot of history is at stake.

History is the ciy's main business, and from new bulkheads and storm drains to portable dikes, Annapolis is trying to keep it above water. With sea level projected to rise by 4 feet within 80 years, it is one of the most endangered coastal cities in the country.

"As the sea level rises in the future, we're going to have to address a higher sea wall, to address the higher tide because it will start coming in over the top," says Annapolis Department of Public Works director David Jarrell.

"Ice melts at 32 degrees and the reality is our city is planning for that eventuality," Craig says.

This fall, Annapolis will host an international conference on protecting historic sites.

"Three hundred years of history," Mayor Michael Pantelides says. "So it's probably the most vital resource to the city of Annapolis. It's been a priority in my administration. We're going to find the money. We're going to fix it."

Not everything can be protected, though. Public infrastructure, homes and businesses will also be at risk. So why make history a priority?

"IT is absolutely economics," according to Craig.

All those tourists and the dollars they leave behind, all drawn to the historic places. Economic bright spots that could go dark with rising waters.

The conference about keeping colonial history above water will be held in Annapolis starting October 29, the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.

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