On October 29th, 2012 Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the coast of New Jersey. The record setting storm proved to be nightmare for thousands of people along the Eastern Seaboard. 8.1 million homes lost power. 37, 000 NJ residences were destroyed. 8.7 million cubic yards of debris and garbage were left behind. Not to mention the unfathomable amount of economic activity disrupted due to the severity of the storm. With this enormous amount of destruction, it is imperative for municipalities to see the storm as an open door. The time for mourning is over. New Jersey and others can take note on the successes and mistakes others have had when responding to a natural disaster. They key to a proper and long-lasting response is to cover all the bases. In other words, the response cannot forsake one municipality over another, or invest large amount of money into projects that are simply not worth the investment.
The most far-reaching effect the storm had on residents of the eastern United States was the loss of power. Although it seems insignificant to those that lost their entire livelihoods, loss of electricity is still a huge concern for future planners when it comes to disaster preparedness. One of the most common ways that people lost power was due to large trees and branches knocking down power lines along main grids. So is the answer to this problem simply to bury the power lines? Maybe, but there is much opposition to this movement as there is support. Mainly, burying power lines requires a large amount of money and time that companies do not see worth undertaking. However, after Sandy’s effect on the power grid, a “simple” solution to the problem seems to be this. In fact, Anaheim, California has been working on their own underground cables for quite some time now, so it is not impossible to begin thinking about it for the eastern US. In Germany, much of the power lines are buried underground. Burying low-power lines certainly seems viable in the wake of Sandy especially since there is a lot of digging up to do anyway. Since much of the states sewer systems need to be fixed, it only makes sense to include burying some of the cables while the excavator is working. You can make up your own opinion after reading some opinions here and here.
As for environmental planning, one main topic to consider is the power of wetlands. In general terms, wetlands are areas of land that are saturated by marshes or other aquatic vegetation. Apart from strong wind gusts and downpours, hurricanes like Sandy tend cause a lot of damage through the water surges that can flood entire towns. Wetlands and their vegetation can provide a buffer to reduce the amount of water that enters towns and cities. Although, the marshes are not a direct barrier, each 2.7 miles of marsh can reduce surges by 1 foot. New Orleans fell victim to flooding due to a large amount of sea grass growing around the Mississippi delta had been reduced to allow more ships to traverse the area. The loss of the natural buffer meant there was nothing to counter the effects of the water surge as it came to shore. After seeing the effects the most recent storm had on coastal communities, one of the easier solutions for preventing such damage in the future can be to expand the wetlands of New Jersey. This project would not only provide a buffer for resident, but it creates much-needed natural habitats for native wildlife.