Navy ships leaving Norfolk base
USS Gonzalez departs Naval Station Norfolk in preparation for Hurricane Florence. (Photo credit: U.S. Navy/Ryre Arciaga)

As Hurricane Florence targeted the East Coast, the Navy moved its ships away from Hampton Roads, Virginia, to keep them safe.

Retired Navy Rear Admiral Ann Phillips says as an isolated incident, this did not affect national security. But as extreme weather becomes more common, the impacts are adding up.

Phillips: “You start to realize over time, gee, we lost more training days due to heat, or we lost more training days due to flooding, or in the context of Florence, all the ships here in Hampton Roads sortied to avoid the storm. So their schedules have been disrupted. And then that certainly adds much more of a challenge to readiness. So can the Navy recover? Of course they can. But it does make things more challenging over time.”

The newest National Defense Authorization Act requires the military to anticipate and prepare for power outages from storms and tidal flooding. It also prohibits building in risky floodplain areas without protective measures such as elevating the lowest floor.

Phillips says these types of adaptations are critical.

Phillips: “This is a real threat. It’s not imagined; it’s not happening quickly, but it is happening, and the need to act, to get ahead of this, is urgent.”

Reporting credit: Ariel Hansen/ChavoBart Digital Media.