There are no real surprises in the findings of a federal panel appointed to develop a strategy for rebuilding coastal areas in the northeastern United States that were damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
Even so, some of the panel’s conclusions should resonate with residents of coastal Louisiana who have faced similar rebuilding challenges after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Of particular interest is the panel’s suggestion that in an age of climate change and rising sea levels, coastal communities should gird themselves for the possibility of more flooding.
That means a greater emphasis on building homes and residences that can withstand high water, as well as developing an electrical grid better suited to the stress of storms.
Louisiana communities strengthened building codes after Katrina and Rita, and officials have paid more attention to development planning since those major storms. But much remains to be done in protecting coastal Louisiana from storms and flooding — including, of course, the hard work of repairing the natural ecology of the coastline, which has been ravaged by generations of abusive environmental stewardship.
The challenges that Americans who suffered from Sandy now face are a reminder that coastal storms are more than a Gulf Coast phenomenon. We hope that reality broadens the national constituency for coastal protection. Even with more federal help, though, state and local officials who serve coastal communities will have to take the lead. They are the ones, after all, who will deal most directly with the consequences when another big storm comes ashore.
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