Planning around natural disasters has always been an issue, but more concerns are rising in the recent years. Why is this so? Some say that more storms are occurring due to climate change. Others say that areas that were prone to natural disasters are becoming more populated which increases the cost of damages. I believe it is a combination of both factors; more frequent storms and also more assets are in areas that are prone to disasters. These two factors contribute to the rising costs of natural disasters. The costs of damages that are caused by natural disasters are increasing at an alarming rate. 

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Global Disaster Losses. Source: http://www.motherjones.com/

According to Mother Jones, last year was the second-most expensive year on record for weather disasters, with Hurricane Sandy and drought in the Midwest pushing the total to more than $100 billion. World Bank analysis found that without significant investments in protective infrastructure, flood damage due to storms could cost coastal cities worldwide $1 trillion every year by 2050. Everyone can see that there is an obvious problem in our hands, but how do we fix it? Planning. No natural disaster can be exactly predicted, but technology has brought us very close. The uncertainty of where and when disasters will happen still exists so preemptive measures must be taken, and that is where planners come in. If planners created cities that would be able to withstand storms, the costs of damages would decrease incredibly. There is a simple way to stop storms from causing damages and it is one word, wetlands. Wetlands create a buffer when a storm hits, soaking up water and taking the beating from the storm that would usually hit the city. A network of wetlands integrated into the city would improve the ecosystem, provide parks, and purify the drinking supply.Kenya Endo proposed this idea at the ONE Prize Competition. His idea won him first place in the competition.

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Endo’s Design. Source: www.fastcoexist.com

Another competitor, Katherine Rodgers,  also proposed creating wetland parks along the shores of New York and New Jersey to prevent damages from another super-storm like Sandy.

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Coastal Wetlands Park. Source: www.fastcoexist.com

The only downside to Katherine’s plan is that urban areas on the coastline would have to be moved further inland, while Endo’s design was to integrate the wetlands into the city. I believe that creating wetlands is a cost-effective and efficient way of dealing with natural disasters that occur on the coastline. The wetlands act as a buffer absorbing water which would usually flood heavily populated urban areas. Wetlands are a great solution to the problems caused by natural disasters, and hopefully in the years to come we will see the positive repercussions of them. 

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