Tue, Sep 12, 2017 - Page 9 News List

How to rebuild cities after hurricanes like Harvey

The aftermath of a disaster often focuses on getting back to normal, but do cities need to think harder about how to withstand the next one?

By Oliver Milman  /  The Guardian

A 2015 study of six US cities found huge variations in response to extreme weather events fueled by climate change.

While New York City and Los Angeles were deemed as making progress, Tampa in Florida, which is also in Irma’s path, was found to be one of the least-prepared cities in the nation, with its main hospital — situated on an isolated low-lying peninsula — demonstrative of the lack of preparedness.

“There’s a big variation in how cities are preparing, some are doing almost nothing,” said Sabrina McCormick, an academic at George Washington University and lead author of the research. “Houston’s approach is similar to other cities in that it hasn’t looked into the future and taken the risks seriously. Unfortunately we are seeing the ramifications of that.”

McCormick said a lack of federal leadership is also a problem.

The Trump administration has struck down several regulations passed by former US president Barack Obama’s administration designed to reduce climate-driven risks.

Ten days before Harvey struck Houston, Trump tore up a rule that demands federally funded projects consider climate change and sea level rise before they are built.

“Ideally we’d have a national plan to help guide cities toward some basic level of planning to address these risks,” McCormick said. “If we don’t see that leadership, cities will have to look to other cities to figure out where to go next. We also need to mitigate our greenhouse gases to reduce the impact in the first place.”

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