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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid