Aberdeen considers tweaking building code based on rising sea levels

ABERDEEN, Wash. -- Aberdeen may become the first city in Washington to base a building code on rising oceans and global warming.

Both Aberdeen and Hoquiam sit just above the bay, and the prediction that the sea level will rise up to 18 inches in 40 years has some ready for action.

"You want to stay with us for a couple of winters -- we really flood," said Kathi Hoder, Aberdeen City Council President. "So all we are going to do, maybe, is when you build a new home, raise it another eight inches. That's not a lot, that's not a big thing."

The proposal would not affect existing homes unless they are extensively remodeled, and that's why Hoder doesn't expect major opposition.

"Our people aren't stupid, they sit here every year and tread water," she said. "They know if we've got to go higher, we've got to go higher."

A dike protects many of the homes in South Aberdeen. People who live in the flood plain wonder if there might not be a better idea.

"Don't think the water's changed here in the last 100 years," said Norman Johnson. "It's just a flood plain anyway, wouldn't it be easier to raise the dike and leave us alone?"

But Hoder said if they don't warn people and they build a home and it floods: "We've led them wrong."

The proposal would require new homes be built at about the level of the dike. It would affect about 50 percent of the lots in Aberdeen.

But Hoder promised the council will listen to the people, because she said they're the bosses.