Over the past year, UCS experts have shared knowledge of the consequences of sea level rise on coastal communities, convened leaders to discuss risks and evaluate appropriate responses, and analyzed problems with America’s flood insurance system. This month, we mark the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy with a forum at Monmouth University (you can attend in person or online), part of the Lewis M. Branscomb Forum series. In a blog series kicking off today, we’re bringing together different points of view on how we can best use scientific and technical information to make coastal communities more resilient. Bookmark this post, as I’ll update it with each new contribution as we get closer to the event, and follow the discussion on Twitter using hashtags #PostSandy and #CSDForum.
Sandy highlights the “new normal”
Sandy flooded cities and changed coastlines, causing $75 billion in damage and making it the second-costliest extreme weather event in U.S. history. Many systems failed. Hundreds of thousands were stranded during the storm or flooded or burned out of their homes and more than 150 people died.
But the consequences would have been far worse without science. The application of scientific knowledge was critical to anticipating the storm track, preventing injury and loss of life, reducing damage to infrastructure, and restoring power and other critical services to affected areas.
We should recognize that danger from extreme weather events, particularly coastal flooding, is increasing. As we brace for more damaging storms, we must improve prediction, response and recovery; better integrate science in risk assessments; create more resilient infrastructure; and ensure that communities can access adequate information to make good planning decisions that benefit all community members.
Monmouth University’s Urban Coast Institute, New Jersey Future, the New Jersey Recovery Fund, the New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance, and a variety of other partners are teaming up with the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS to hold a full-day event on October 29 to talk about what has been accomplished over the last year and what is still left to do so that the next disaster doesn’t take so heavy a toll.
Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who co-chaired a New York commission on response to weather-related emergencies, and former New Jersey Governors James Florio and Christine Todd Whitman are among the forum’s many speakers.
The blog series
Due to the immense scope of the challenges around extreme weather events, the forum itself will be unable to tackle all of the issues in great depth and detail. To complement the forum, a series of blog posts will explore sea level rise, disaster prediction and response, and coastal community planning and resiliency.
We’ll have a mix of posts from UCS staff and guest experts. Here are some related topics that UCS bloggers have tackled in the past:
- Erika Spanger-Siegfried discussed our vulnerability to sea level rise and coastal storms, and what changed in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy at the beginning of hurricane season.
- Gretchen Goldman explored the need for long-term, continuous, and reliable data gathering to be able to characterize and respond to risk.
- Rachel Cleetus reported back on a multi-state roundtable on the growing risks from sea level rise, storm surges, and flooding.
- Brenda Ekwurzel looked at how natural shoreline defenses can protect communities.
- Doug Boucher wrote about one change we can make so that we can keep the lights on during and after severe weather.
Click on the Hurricane Sandy tag below to see all past and future posts related to these issues.