Hurricane Sandy Inspires New Ways of Thinking

In fall 2012, many along the East Coast had a wakeup call. It was called Hurricane Sandy. The superstorm left a path of human deaths and property damage in its wake and heralded a new understanding of climate change and how it will affect the world going forward. Most of all Sandy has inspired a new way of thinking, as experts and city planners search for new ways to combat such weather events going forward. The lessons learned from Sandy will hopefully lead to better prepared communities.

The following are some of the lessons learned and the ways that are being brought forward to deal with the future impact as a result of worldwide climate change, according to a recent article published by www.mnn.com.

The New York Academy of Science recently hosted a discussion on how cities could better prepare for natural disasters spurred on by recent climate change. Not only did the panel present the problems facing an area like New York City going forward, but they also presented possible solutions. One such solution included the feasibility of placing barriers within the water surrounding the New York/New Jersey area.

It was determined that such barriers, while cost effective in the short term, would only lead to complacency on the part of citizens in the area to enact any real change in the infrastructure of the area. It was also determined that such action would only serve to delay the inevitable … a superstorm like Sandy hitting the area again, causing widespread damage and potential loss of human life. In essence, the barriers would help alleviate storm impacts, but only until sea levels rise and make those barriers ineffective in the future.

FEMA, on the other hand, has developed what they call Innovation Teams that work on the ground in hard-hit areas after a disaster. The team works with the local community to develop strategies that can bolster area response. This includes connecting residents who need help in rebuilding with those who can provide that assistance. Hurricane Sandy was one such example where FEMA’s Innovation Team was able to establish Internet connectivity in an area where there was none. This, in turn, facilitated the ability of residents to apply for aid, making the recovery process somewhat smoother and faster.

While the government and communities should think of ways to prevent such devastating results, as seen after Sandy, from climate change, they must also realize that until the world reduces its carbon footprint, sea levels will continue to rise and weather patterns will continue to change as a result of the added greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And while weather changes have been a constant event throughout history, our effect on such changes have done a lot to make natural changes a lot worse than in the past. From all evidence, it appears that Superstorm Sandy-like storms will only continue to get worse.

For more information about lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy, visit: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/climate weather/stories/10-lessons-learned-from-superstorm-sandy

http://www.fema.gov/blog/2013-01-15/lessons-sandy-word-innovation

http://www.dvidshub.net/news/101452/new-york-army-national-guard-shares-hurricane-lessons-learned-with-israeli-home-front-command#.URAXxfKH_To