Marcia McNutt, the former director of the U.S. Geological Survey, says Hurricane Sandy has left coastal cities dangerously exposed to future storms.
“Superstorm Sandy was a threshold for the north-east and we have already crossed it,” McNutt told the National Council for Science and the Environment conference in Washington. “For the next storm, not even a super storm, even a run-of-the-mill nor’easter, the amount of breaches and the amount of coastal flooding will be widespread…
“Basically these dunes build up over geologic time, and yet the superstorm wore them down over a couple of days, and it is going to take geologic time again to build them back up,” McNutt said. “It is possible with bulldozers and engineering and millions of dollars to do with engineering what Mother Nature used to do for free.”
However, McNutt conceded that this was a daunting prospect given existing fiscal constraints. Republicans in the house have already balked at the $50m in immediate relief for Sandy that went to the house on Tuesday.
“There are some cities and towns that actually spent multi-millions of dollars to rebuild eroded dunes, and some of them actually fared better than cities and towns that hadn’t rebuilt their dunes. So it is possible by spending millions and millions and millions of dollars to rebuild them, but where are those resources going to be?” McNutt said.