Hurricanes and Floods: Protecting America’s Coastline from Extreme Weather


This month, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), together with research support from Hurricane Sandy FloodingAllied World and Earth Economics, published, Natural Defenses from Hurricanes and Floods: Protecting America’s Communities and Ecosystems in an Era of Extreme Weather. The document takes an in-depth look at the risks we Americans face from potentially catastrophic natural hazards from intense storm flooding.

As seen in recent years, resiliency in disaster preparedness is lacking in many, if not all, of our coastal municipalities. Years of inaction and under-investment at the federal, state, and local levels may lead to devastation after the next big storm. The NWF’s report, “calls on America to substantially increase our investments in proactive risk reduction measures at a “Marshall Plan” scale that takes into consideration the growing risks from more intense storms, flooding and sea level rise.”

“The report analyzes a series of studies showing how taking action now can protect our communities and save money, highlighting how healthy natural systems such as dunes, oyster reefs, barrier islands and wetlands can reduce flood risk more effectively in many cases than erecting levees and seawalls.” Among the examples:

  • Jamaica Bay
  • Duluth
  • California’s Yuba County

Finally, the report identifies seven areas of federal and state law in need of improvement, thus focusing the collective energies of lawmakers towards a common goal: resiliency in the light of disaster. America cannot afford to rebuild entire coastlines after future storms like “Superstorm” Sandy.

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