News / USA

Lessons Learned from Hurricane Sandy

The ruins of an oceanfront home destroyed by Superstorm Sandy is scattered next to an existing home in Mantoloking N.J., Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013.
The ruins of an oceanfront home destroyed by Superstorm Sandy is scattered next to an existing home in Mantoloking N.J., Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013.
Adam Phillips
October 29, 2012 Hurricane Sandy slammed into coastal areas of the northeastern U.S., leaving thousands homeless and causing more than $65 billion in damage. Rebuilding efforts continue today. Experts suggest what might be done to minimize cost of future extreme weather events due to climate change.

Most scientists agree that global warming is causing the glaciers to melt, which in turn is causing sea levels to rise. That makes coastal areas like New York City vulnerable.

For years, Klaus Jacob, a research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, warned that New York’s infrastructure and subway system could be catastrophically flooded during extreme weather.
 
Because of flood preparation maps he had prepared, much of New York City’s subway system remained dry during Sandy. However, climate change continues to accelerate. Jacob says a barrier system can help in the near-to-mid term.

“The best known is in the Netherlands. Normally those storm surge barriers are open. But when a storm comes, you close them so the storm surge cannot enter into the city. But as sea level rise continues, you have to eventually close those barriers permanently," said Jacob.
 
Another strategy is to accommodate the rush of water by allowing seawater to course through roadways.

“For instance, in downtown Manhattan we'd have to give up the use of below ground and at ground levels of buildings and will have to live from the second and third floor on and do business. That means both the infrastructure - electricity, water and sewage, communications - need to be waterproofed so they can live and work under these water conditions," said Jacob.
 
Jacob says one also could connect buildings via above-ground walkways called “highlines.” But in his opinion, the best long term option, at least for Manhattan, is to retreat permanently from the island’s coastal areas to higher ground.

But Steven Cohen, executive director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, doesn't think mass migration is necessary.

He criticizes the federal government. For months, partisan squabbling in Congress prevented federal aid money from being disbursed to homeowners whose dwellings were damaged or destroyed.

“Part of the basic function of government is to protect people, and part of what government has to do now is to get in the reconstruction business and do it quickly," said Cohen.
 
At the same time, Cohen says, humanity must find alternatives to burning fossil fuels that create global warming and the rise in sea levels.
 
“It’s not only climate change. It’s ecological damage. It’s the cost of it all. And we have to figure out a way to build a collective response to this so nobody goes broke trying to fix it and everybody helps each other," he said.

New Yorkers are examining other strategies for dealing with climate change, including Rebuild by Design, an initiative that combines community input with disciplines like architecture and urban design to protect New Yorkers from future climate events, while beautifying the city.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs