By Samuel Burke, CNN
The American East Coast has yet to fully asses Hurricane Sandy’s destruction, but people are already asking how they can rebuild to be better prepared in the future.
“Certainly there are things we could do to avoid what we saw happening this week,” says Kate Ascher, an urban planning expert who understands how all the pieces of this complicated jigsaw fit together.
Ascher says when the coastal areas begin to rebuild, they’ll need to construct various types of sea walls to break the surf that have various parts of the East Coast surrounded by water in Sandy’s aftermath.
In New York City, much of the infrastructure is located in the lower part of the city, Ascher says it’s unlikely those will be moved, so the structures must be updated to protect against the tides and storm surges.
Ascher believes the lower parts of Manhattan need breakwaters, levees and barriers that actually would stop the sea coming in certain targeted places, like they do in England.
“London years ago built the Thames barrier, which is a huge structure that can be raised and lowered. So for navigation, it allows ships to pass except when it's raised. And it has been raised over 100 times since it's been constructed, when times seem like they're going to be dangerous to the city.”
This type of major infrastructure investment has a big price tag Ascher says.
“But this is so serious and so acute that my guess is it will be a clarion call to action. In 1888, the great blizzard knocked down every cable that was in New York City as it was industrializing. And as a result, everything went underground. And ever since then, New York's infrastructure has been incredibly reliable because of that incident. And I think one can only hope that this does exactly the same thing and prompts some kind of radical action that'll set the stage for improvements in the future.”
CNN’s Juliet Fuisz produced this piece for television.