As residents, businesses, government agencies and communities in the Florida Panhandle come to grips with Hurricane Michael’s death and destruction, thoughts are turning to how to rebuild (or whether to bother, in some cases).
“Big-picture methods for accomplishing this include ecosystem maintenance (creating or securing wetlands that can absorb floodwaters, using more pervious surfaces, and limiting sprawl, for example) and massive engineering projects (see Rotterdam’s storm surge barrier or New Orleans’s elaborate system of levees, pumps, and gates),” she writes. “Rebuilding communities away from storm-prone areas is also possible, but emotional ties—not to mention insurance stipulations for rebuilding—often get in the way.”
“Retreat would be a logical solution and response, but it’s expensive,” she quoted Steve Adams, director of urban resilience at the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) as saying. Adams grew up in Panama City, where his 98-year-old father still lives.
All of these are costly projects that also require political will. On the other hand, one might argue, not adapting or rebuilding communities to withstand increasingly extreme weather will also come at a very steep price. Ultimately, any storm-prone community must ask how it will engineer its way out the problem, or succumb to shortsightedness that will land it in the same predicament again and again. Whatever the answer, says Adams, who now lives in Eugene, Oregon, we’ll be “learning to live with water in a different way than we do now.”