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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ebola Lockdown May Be Extended

Lockdown, which started Friday, aims to allow health workers to locate hidden Ebola patients, educate others on how to avoid the deadly disease More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid