Is the Northeast Well Prepared for Hurricane Joaquin?

By Agustina Hobbs ’17

Hurricane JoaquinHurricane Joaquin has made the headlines for the last couple of days. On Thursday, meteorologists began addressing the large impact that hurricane Joaquin could have on most of the East Coast after a category 4 storm passed through the Bahamas with 130 MPH winds and 10-15 inches of rain. Meteorologists were uncertain whether the hurricane would go to the northeast, stretching from South Carolina to Washington D.C, or go out towards the Atlantic Ocean. Although the storm on October 2nd went out towards the sea, there was still torrential rain and flooding as a residual weather system heading towards coastal and inland communities in at least six states.

The rains in South Carolina reached a historical rainfall of an average of 20 inches, an event that has not happened in over a thousand years. These storms caused flooding, power outages, and road closures. In order to take precautions, there were emergency declarations that went into effect in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. National Guard soldiers were placed on alerts and were sent to these states to help the communities, such as preparing sandbags.

After Superstorm Sandy’s devastation, all affected regions lacked key protection measures. Sandy cost the government over $71 billion in damage due to its lack of preparation. Projects are currently being put into play, but due to a lack of funding and planning delays, projects (such as extending the beach into water and the project coastal development) have a completion date of 2065. Luckily, preparations at a local level have been easier to coordinate. Local communities have raised their homes and apartments, and have developed hurricane preparedness plans. Governments have also improved their storm response plans by paying closer attention to storm surge, which is when extreme floods can occur when hurricane winds push elevated sea levels far into land. National weather forecasters have issued more precise predictors that local disaster response officials can use to prepare.

One of the main things that the government is trying to accomplish is to spend their budget on building beaches and dunes, which help brunt of storm-related flooding. However, building beaches causes two problems: they only provide protection for fast-moving and weak storms, which is not the case for hurricane Joaquin and they are a temporary fix because they will erode, thus spending using allotting a lot of money. Therefore, the government should look into new possibilities on preventing catastrophic damage in the future.



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