07 Jan Better to be Prepared Then Sorry
Hurricane Sandy touched down on the east coast of the United States seven years ago in October. Unfortunately killing 150 people and causing $70 billion dollars in damaged buildings and infrastructure. There was a lot of support from Governments and individuals towards the devastated communities and funds for helping rebuild and relief. $50 billion in aid alone was provided from the federal government.
Nevertheless, the country missed an important opportunity to capitalize on improving the construction policies of homes to withstand hurricanes and flooding. This was also a good realization that we need to improve programs that to better prepare for the expensive of what the deadly storms are capable of along our nation’s coast.
A comprehensive report on Hurricane Sandy was released by The Army Corps of Engineers in 2015. It mentions coastal flooding from storms and cautiously rising sea levels, the recommendations to come out of this report calls for a shift in how we travel, live, work, and play in a “..sustainable manner as the extent of the area at very high risk of coastal storm damage expands.”
Since the release of the report, there has been an increase of hurricanes in our country such as Harvey, Maria, Irma in 2017; Florence and Michael in 2018. Scientists has discovered as the climate warms there has been an increase in coastal storms. With the increase of future sea levels, they are also predicting that the storms will steadily push farther inland and overflow larger areas of land.
A couple states such as New York and California, and communities including Boston and Miami have been making efforts into preparing for the paradigm shift. But the country has not embraced the call for the shift in how coastal risk should be managed.
Elevating buildings is a great way when applied and done correctly to protect against flooding from storms temporarily, but it will fail when sea levels become more permanently tolerant.
Reform in the federal programs for flood insurance and disaster relief needs to take effect sooner rather than later. Federal flood insurance program coax communities to stay in risky flood zones along the coast, that will eventually be flooded by rising sea levels. Avoiding a disaster by having smarter investments should be the focus with the Disaster programs.
Significant funding for planning and implementation of coping for coastal flood challenges should be provided by the federal government, for the states who are not coping and need a hand with it.
Also, the federal government needs to invest into the preservation of natural resource such as beaches and wetlands. They will also work with state and local governments to help relocate important structures, such as military bases, water facilities, and transportation access. This will allow natural areas to have space to move inland when sea levels get too high.
Finally, since flood rates are increasing the houses are getting devalued greatly, causing the homeowner to lose a great chunk of money on their house if they would like to move. So, the government to avoid more money being lost by allowing others to move into risky property, they should purchase the houses. This will in the long run save the government and the homeowner money, because they won’t have to keep rebuilding and or pay flood insurance on the house anymore.
Sandy was very traumatic to a lot of communities, but mostly also forgotten about. As pain and the hardship of the event fades so does the sense of urgency to do something that will better prepare for the future. Now is the best time to start the reform and take action to strengthen the national effort for the growing coastal flood risk.