Maggie: It is estimated that it will take ten years to rebuild and recover from the destruction of Superstorm Sandy. And most experts predict that we will see more record-breaking storms. Shelby Holliday takes a look at how our nation is preparing for the next super storm.
Shelby: One year ago, Superstorm Sandy swept Joe Courtney’s home off its foundation.
Joe Courtney: We never had a question if we were going to rebuild or not. This is where I grew up, this is where my wife grew up and, you know, this is where our lives are.
Shelby: His new home will be higher, with a 14-foot concrete foundation, flood vents, and heat and water utilities above ground level. The same kind of features are being applied to new construction up and down the East Coast to protect against another super storm.
When Superstorm Sandy slammed the East Coast, it shut down entire transit systems, flooded businesses and homes, and left millions without power. It was a rare and terrible super storm. But could it happen again?
Dr. Malcolm Bowman: That was the question. I predicted back in 2005 that it was just a question of when.
Shelby: Dr. Malcolm Bowman has been studying storm surges for decades. He says it is just a matter of time before the East Coast gets hit again.
Dr. Bowman: No one can say exactly when, but we do know with the climate changing, sea level rising, the planet warming, storms will become more ferocious. They might not become more often, but they’ll be stronger.
Shelby: That is why New York and New Jersey have spent the past year rebuilding stronger and smarter structures, like securing boardwalks, redeveloping factory sites and boosting neighborhoods.
Vishaan Chakrabarti: People want to live on the water, they want to enjoy the water. And there are ways to allow people to do that in a way that’s still safe.
Shelby: In Vishaan Chakrabarti’s design for this Brooklyn neighborhood, buildings are farther back from the water. Elevators and electricity are raised higher. Streets are graded downward so water flows back into the river. And parks and green space help absorb water.
Vishaan: Urban areas have a lot of natural advantages in terms of storms that we really have to take advantage of.
Shelby: All of these measures could help prevent the kind of damage caused by Sandy. But some scientists say we need to do even more.
Are we prepared for another Sandy?
Dr. Bowman: No, we are not prepared. We’re just as vulnerable as we were before Sandy.
Shelby: Dr. Bowman says the key is to stop storm surges before they ever reach our cities by adding sand to our beaches and building barriers to protect the coastline.
Dr. Bowman: And this came up. That’s to stop the surge, you see?
Shelby: The barriers he is proposing would have to be approved by Congress and could cost about $30 billion, a price tag that is not likely to be popular among politicians. But after Superstorm Sandy, which cost $65 billion and dozens of lives, Dr. Bowman says we need to act now.
Dr. Bowman: Because in the long term, this problem is going to get worse and worse. And as we saw with Sandy, it was foolish to be complacent. And it’s irresponsible not to really make the investments to protect this great city.
Shelby: Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.
Maggie: To read more about the effects of Sandy, just head on over to Channelone.com.