After Sandy—Who's Next?

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Thursday, 6 February 2014: 2:45 PM
Georgia Ballroom 2 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
William Read, Former Director, National Hurricane Center, League City, TX

Superstorm Sandy exposed the storm surge vulnerability of the coastal communities on the Middle Atlantic Region of the U.S. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina exposed the level of risk facing southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi. In 2001 Tropical Storm Allison laid bare the myth that a tropical storm is a minor threat when Houston was flooded by excessive rainfall. Risky land use policy is the primary culprit in the above-mentioned events. In 1992 Andrew exposed non-resilient building practices when it struck southern Miami Dade county. And the list goes on…Sandy may have been unique but the impacts aren't and most assuredly Sandy scale disasters will happen again. So where next might a coastal catastrophe occur?

This talk will discuss four vulnerable coastal communities, each having uniquely different challenges tied to land use, building practices or demographics. The keys to vulnerability in each case will be brought out along with the relative risk of occurrence. The Virginia Tidewater region – Norfolk-Hampton – is highly vulnerable to surge and is a difficult evacuation challenge. The Low Country of coastal South Carolina and Georgia is long overdue and the near miss of Hugo in 1989 renders a risk awareness challenge related to storm surge. The southwest coast of Florida from Sarasota to Naples has mostly developed without a major storm surge event. In addition to being at high risk for large surge, the retirement age demographic provides an added challenge. Finally, the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas (and the adjacent population in Mexico) an incredible challenge socio-economically for preparedness and evacuation.