Getting to the Resilient Coastal Future: “We’re All in This Together”

Our world is changing rapidly. Nothing remains stationary, whether in political, social, and economic realms– and along with them, our physical climate is being disrupted as well.

Tidal flooding in Annapolis, Maryland, for example, has increased over 900% since the 1950s. Florida, Virginia, New Jersey, South Carolina, Louisiana, Texas…the list goes on. Over 40% of Americans live in coastal areas. Billions of dollars in residential home values are vulnerable to flooding. Add to that the tens of thousands of businesses, industrial sites, refineries, power plants, municipal and healthcare facilities, and critical infrastructure that populate coastal America.

Climate change is occurring. It is fact, not opinion. Causes and blame are not essential to understand how a changing climate impacts coastal cities, their residents and businesses. Rising sea levels, more severe storms, heavier downpours and overflowing rivers are increasing economic and social disruptions more and more each year.

Impacts from increased flooding include direct property damage, business and supply chain interruptions, loss in market values, and loss of lives.

Harvey, Irma and Maria showed us the astounding lack of resiliency in the US. Of the $306 billion in natural hazard damages in the US last year, over $200 billion was caused by hurricanes and most of that was from flooding.

In the US, not enough property owners had flood insurance. Property owners were not properly educated about their flood risks. Neither governments, nor banks, nor insurance companies incentivized homeowners to mitigate their flood risks. And, federal, state and local governments woefully under-invest in coastal resiliency, even as the infrastructure fails.

New big data technologies, algorithmic cloud computing and geographic information systems, however, now mean that online flood risk modeling and risk communication is available. And it is fast, accurate and affordable.

Armed with high-quality, actionable information about property-level flood risk from Coastal Risk Consulting at www.floodscores.com, individuals, businesses and governments can become more resilient and sustainable. First comes knowledge, then comes action: by knowing their flood and climate risk, property owners and investors can take cost-effective flood prevention and protection measures. 

Resiliency is the means to climate adaptation success. It’s possible, even in extremely vulnerable cities like Annapolis, Charleston, Norfolk, Miami Beach and others. But it requires orchestration of flood prevention efforts by multiple sectors: all levels of government, residential and commercial property owners, insurance companies, and mortgage finance lenders-- starting NOW.

We’re all in this together!

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