Hurricanes on the Boardwalk
Hurricane season has always been a big deal in Miami, but not so much in Philadelphia. This could change soon.
Due to climate change, hurricanes may start making landfall further up the Atlantic seaboard than they have historically. Taking precautions to protect critical infrastructure has been common in Florida for a long time, but now areas like the New Jersey Shore, Philadelphia, and New York must also take steps to guard critical power infrastructure from hurricanes.
Responsible emergency planners in hurricane country, along the Gulf Coast and extending up to the Carolinas, plan for the high winds and storm surges that damage critical infrastructure. Even with planning, things can and do go wrong, as we saw with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
As the number of people living in coastal communities increases, emergency planners must take more measures to safeguard power infrastructure during destructive weather. Safeguarding infrastructure often requires costly upgrades.
The costs associated with major infrastructure improvements can make such ventures a tough sell to shareholders. The first step in mitigating potential risk is knowing the risk level for a city. This allows for better mitigation planning. After Superstorm Sandy, it is not a surprise that New York is at the top of the list. Who would guess that Hartford would be more at risk than Orlando?
Sandy caused eight million people to lose power. In some areas, it took months to restore power. Although Sandy was initially perceived as a rare event, planners are beginning to see it as a sign of things to come. Providing adequate emergency response to similar events in the future will depend on the availability of power.
To adequately prepare, we need to prioritize the areas that require the most help. Hopefully, Sandy serves as a warning for the future if we don’t prepare ahead.