Monday, July 06, 2015

SURVIVING DISASTERS - Rising Sea Levels, Two Cities, Two Responses

"Two cities, two very different responses to rising sea levels" PBS NewsHour 7/2/2015


SUMMARY:  While New York City is taking aggressive action to prevent future catastrophes like Hurricane Sandy; other vulnerable cities, such as Charleston, South Carolina, are not tackling the threat of rising sea level and climate change with the same urgency.  Special correspondent Jackie Judd reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Tonight, the NewsHour begins a series on the way communities prepare and survive disasters, both natural and manmade.

NewsHour special correspondent Jackie Judd brings us a tale of two cities, both on the Atlantic Seaboard.

JACKIE JUDD (NewsHour):  The crane towering over Rockaway Beach is a symbol of New York City’s urgent, almost frantic effort to prevent a repeat of what happened in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy nearly brought the city to its knees.

DANIEL ZARRILLI, Mayor’s Office and Recovery and Resiliency, New York City:  We have 520 miles of shoreline. We have always been at risk of coastal inundation, but Sandy really changed the way we think about that risk and how we engage with the waterfront.

JACKIE JUDD:  The response is not simply about minimizing hurricane damage.  The larger issue, the issue making hurricanes more destructive, is sea level rise caused by climate change and a warming planet.

BENJAMIN STRAUSS, Climate Central:  We’re not labeling things with sea level rise when we should be.

JACKIE JUDD:  Ben Strauss is a scientist with the research organization Climate Central.

BENJAMIN STRAUSS:  A storm comes in, we have a damaging flood, and we say we had a storm, we had a flood.  But every flood is deeper, bigger, and more damaging because of the sea level rise we’ve already had.

JACKIE JUDD:  In the last century, the sea rose at least eight inches, and the rate has been accelerating since the 1990s.

In the Rockaways, Mayor Bill de Blasio, recently and with great fanfare, opened the first stretch of a new concrete boardwalk built above the floodplain to replace the wooden one Sandy destroyed.

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