New York and New Orleans

November 4, 2012

Industrial Canal Seawall with the Lower 9 to the right

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

In the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the question(s) about the devastation in New York is not about whether New York would re-build, but how and in what way.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the questions and proposed solutions for New Orleans were quite a bit different as politicians and engineers argued against the investment.

It seems that the 3 biggest issues in real estate (Location, Location, Location) really do matter.

Both cases present an ever more important reality-as the climate changes, it appears that ocean levels will continue to rise and storms will become more frequent and have greater intensity.  The majority of the population of the United States lives in the coastal regions and therefore these areas contain a massive amount of infrastructure that proves to be quite vulnerable in the face of such power.  By the time Katrina hit New Orleans, she was a Category 3 Hurricane; Sandy was a Category 1 that was downgraded by the time she arrived in New York.  The point here is that neither of these storms were as strong as hurricanes can get (Category 5), yet they killed hundreds and created billions of dollars of damage (the estimate for Sandy appears to be 50 billion dollars).

Of particular interest is the discussion of creating salt marshes as a buffer-zone to protect New York from such storms as the loss of wetlands has been blamed for some of the hurricane-related destruction of New Orleans.

At some point, we will need to get serious about mitigating climate change instead of building our way out of storm damage.  The alternative would be for many to re-locate.

Take care.

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