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Carolina Beach, North Carolina, seeks answers to flooding as sea levels rise

Climate change can sometimes be a nebulous concept, with scientists often talking about temperatures rising by fractions of a degree over the years or that habitats will look completely different by the end of the century.

But for some coastal North Carolina residents, changes caused by a warming climate often appear monthly on their streets and backyards. And the frequency of these floods is increasing.

Take the north end of Carolina Beach. The community of Pleasure Island is one of several coastal cities in North Carolina that has seen the impacts of high tide flooding increase in recent years thanks to the confluence of several factors.

Rampant development, overwhelmed and decades-old stormwater drainage systems, and rising sea levels mean that low-lying areas already susceptible to flooding are increasingly suffering impacts from non-storm surge events. The result is flooded streets, dangerous driving conditions, increased saltwater wear on infrastructure and properties, and residents sometimes having to walk through water just to access their homes and businesses.