A recently released U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report concludes that the risk of coastal flooding is increasing in the Northeast because of rising sea levels and changing climate, and that without improvements to the current planning and development patterns along the coast, the impact of the next large hurricane to strike the Northeast could be equal or worse than Sandy.
These results are part of the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study, a two-year effort by the Corps and its Federal, state, local, and non-governmental partners, to assess the flood risks facing coastal communities and ecosystems and collaboratively develop a coastal storm risk management framework to address increasing risks, which are driven in part by increased frequency and intensity of storm events and rising sea levels due to a changing climate.
“It’s our collective responsibility to use the latest sea-level change and climate change information on our current planning studies in design and implementation,” said Amy Guise, the chief of planning and policy at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District.
The study results include shared tools that decision makers can use to assess coastal flood risks and identify solutions, including a nine-step Coastal Storm Risk Management Framework that can be used by communities, states, tribes, and the Federal government to help identify coastal risk and develop strategies for reducing those risks.
“Communities should consider adopting a combination of strategies [to reduce risk],” said Guise. “But it’s important to note that no matter what risk-reduction strategies are taken, there is always residual risk. And it’s important for everyone to know what that risk is.”
According to the study, coastal communities face tough choices as they prepare for changing conditions while striving to preserve community values and economic vitality. But through the use of this framework and through responsible planning and development patterns along the coast, communities can start taking action now to reduce the risk of damage from future coastal storms.