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Rebuilding Smarter After Hurricane Sandy

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As we collectively move forward with our efforts to reduce the risks to people and nature from sea level rise and flooding along our rivers and coasts, we can never forget that our decisions before – and after storm events – directly affect the magnitude of impacts from future events. People live and work in these places by the sea and have cherished their homes and traditions for generations. It’s not easy to leave. Many will decide to rebuild in the same places, but hopefully in a more resilient manner, where possible.

We have made some important progress here in Connecticut to better prepare our communities for the coastal hazards that have always existed – but are now amplified by more intense storms and higher sea levels.

In August, Bridgeport – Connecticut’s most populous city – completed a report summarizing recommendations from a series of Climate Preparedness workshops held earlier this year. Following extreme weather events, including Tropical Storm Irene, the October 2011 Halloween Nor’easter and a recent tornado, this community planning process, completed by a coalition of partners (including Greater Bridgeport Regional Council, The Nature Conservancy, Clean Air Cool Planet and the Regional Plan Association), identified the city’s strengths and vulnerabilities resulting in a call to action.

As with all communities that go through this engagement process, it is about getting started on the path to resilience early. Already recognized by the National Weather Service as the first StormReady community in the state, Bridgeport was also selected as a national case study for addressing climate impacts and reducing risk to infrastructure, presenting at a White House GreenGov 2012 conference in Washington D.C. in October.

Using NOAA’s Roadmap for Adapting to Coastal Risk and The Nature Conservancy’s Coastal Resilience tool, the Bridgeport workshops integrated maps showing projected flooding from extreme events, like a Category 3 hurricane (similar to the 1938 hurricane) combined with sea level rise, into a community-driven dialogue on risk, choices, and actions. Areas identified as top priorities include:

  • adjusting building codes and land use policy to accommodate flooding;
  • incorporating natural infrastructure (such as marshes) to reduce risk;
  • improving social services capacity and education; and
  • factoring hazards and climate change into all critical infrastructure improvement and redevelopment plans

Image credit: Adam Whelchel/TNC (A condemned home after Hurricane Sandy).

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Read more: Community, Conservation, Environment, Global Healing, Green, Health & Safety, Home, Inspiration, Life, Make a Difference, Nature, Nature & Wildlife, Self-Help, Spirit

By Adam Whelchel, Ph.D., The Nature Conservancy

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34 comments

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8:39AM PST on Jan 18, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

11:29AM PST on Jan 13, 2013

Noted this interesting read. This was such a terrible tragedy, and hoping when rebuilding is taking place, people will take into consideration that if they are really close to the sea, down the line they might have to face storms again, I don't think they will be another as wicked, considering that fact that Sandy happened on a night with the full moon, which of course affects the tides. Also I heard a gentleman on TV speaking about Statin Island where he is rebuilding with his own money so far, and how the storm sewers have never been upgraded.

1:44PM PST on Jan 12, 2013

noted

9:07AM PST on Jan 12, 2013

ty

7:06AM PST on Jan 12, 2013

So sad...

10:54PM PST on Jan 10, 2013

So very sad.. Signed and noted..

5:28PM PST on Jan 8, 2013

Sadly these super storms,hurricanes,droughts,and tornadoes will be increasing in numbers in the near future. Not really sure how one can prepare and build better structures that will withstand these forces of nature.

1:57AM PST on Jan 8, 2013

Noted.

8:59PM PST on Jan 7, 2013

So sad

7:44PM PST on Jan 7, 2013

It would be good to go with solar and wind and replace fossil fuel-based infrastructure.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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