Not surprisingly, the top three hazards identified by Bridgeport include coastal and inland flooding, storm surge from tropical storms and hurricanes, and rising seas and groundwater levels. The unprecedented 11-foot storm surge recorded in parts of Bridgeport during Sandy punctuated these findings.
Clearly we have more work to do. Bridgeport is working towards enrollment in FEMA’s Community Rating System, which provides incentives for communities that take steps to increase resilience, by offering reductions to private property owners on flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Across the nation’s coast, and most recently in the wake of Sandy, communities face a difficult situation that needs to be addressed: how do we balance safety and cost efficiency with respect for individual choices, property rights, and natural systems that offer protection?
Living through Storm Sandy has reinvigorated my work to help communities find the answers to these questions. One thing is clear: there are tools, strategies and solutions available to support the economic and ecological health of our coastal communities. We now have an opportunity to build back smarter, taking advantage of nature’s protective buffers where we can, and using lessons from Irene and Sandy to plan wisely for a more resilient future.
Adam Whelchel is Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. This post is adapted from a recent blog on Cool Green Science. Opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Nature Conservancy.