Recent events like Hurricane Sandy, which struck Staten Island, NY on October 29, 2012, serve as a costly reminder of how unsustainable designs and mounting social pressures can contribute to extensive structural damage and subsequent financial cost, from storm surge inundation and coastal flooding. It is unlikely that Hurricane Sandy was a one-time event but rather a warning of what can occur over the next century without proper mitigation strategies. Based on climate change projections, such extreme events are expected to become more frequent and intense due to warmer sea surface temperatures and rising sea levels (Emmanual, 2005; Kirtman et. al., 2013). To mitigate impacts and improve resiliency, we need to devise and implement robust planning strategies that reduce society's exposure and vulnerability to extreme environmental hazards.
Hurricane Sandy presents an opportunity to rethink existing designs and place environmental constraints to development at the forefront. In the 1960s, Ian McHarg conducted a land use suitability on Staten Island and deemed most of the extensively damaged areas unsuitable for urbanization (McHarg 1969, Wagner et al,. forthcoming). Best practices suggest, urban areas should be buffered from coastlines and riverbanks to reduce their exposure to flooding. The next best approach is to devise and implement stormwater management and other mitigating measures. As part of the recovery process, a number of resilient strategies on Staten Island such as elevating urban structures, expanding greenbelts, and incorporating natural buffers have been proposed to ameliorate existing threats and those attributable to climate change (e.g., sea level rise and increased coastal flooding). While these designs address vulnerability to inundation, questions arise as to how resilient these strategies will be to future coastal flooding and extreme events.
Wagner, Melissa; Gentile, Lauren E.; Merson, Joanna; and Wentz, Elizabeth
"Sustainable Urban Planning and Climate Change Scenarios: An Investigation of Staten Island's Urban Planning,"
Proceedings of the Fábos Conference on Landscape and Greenway Planning: Vol. 5:
1, Article 8.
Available at: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/fabos/vol5/iss1/8
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