One week after Hurricane Sandy has left an indelible mark on the northeastern seaboard, the lengthy process of rebuilding and reconfiguring begins. It is clear that with many states, cities and coastal communities at risk that things will need to change. But what is unclear is how.
In addition to many heavily populated cities, the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, stretching from New York to North Carolina has many wetlands and barrier islands that are in great peril. With the rapid increases in sea level, rising three to four times faster than the global average in this area, it is important that proper consideration be given to cities but also the coastal areas.
One example, Long Beach Island (LBI), a coastal city of less than 10,000 people only accessible via a single bridge, was particularly devastated by the hurricane leaving sand, boats and homes strewn about in a fashion that has left many homeless and speechless. It’s hard to fathom that the millions of dollars in damage was caused in the span of hours, however, the evidence of drastic changes in the climate can no longer be ignored. What will be done in these coastal communities? As hurricanes and storm surges increase in frequency and intensity due to climate change the question of a managed retreat, ceding low lying areas, versus rebuilding and re-imagining these areas has become more relevant.