This article will cover recovery aspects which communities and local governments should look to in order to restore residential homes and commercial businesses in the post Hurricane Sandy period and for future exigencies.
In the storm surge of Hurricane Sandy, the winds impacted areas such as New York Harbor, Staten Island, Queens, and Brooklyn. The hurricane lifted the sea and piled water onto the nearby land areas. The great tides created shear forces that ripped through neighborhoods and reduced the local housing and infrastructure to rubble.
Local, state, and federal agencies are working to find temporary housing, food, medical care and other necessities until the people impacted are able to settle into permanent housing. Entities like the Red Cross are providing for food and temporary shelter together with local charities and federal agencies like FEMA. Property insurers are involved for people who have residential home and major flood insurance.
There are ways to reduce the impact of a storm surge on people. For instance, parks, playgrounds, tracks, tennis courts, and ball fields could be put into place within ocean proximity instead of residential and commercial buildings which create difficult and expensive evacuation and disaster recovery planning issues.
In addition, zoning laws and building codes may changed for beach areas which abut major waterways. These codes could provide for the use of mobile homes and manufactured housing which is easier to install and less costly to maintain and insure.
Clearly, multi-million dollar structures should be placed farther away from major waterways. People could utilize public storage facilities located inland for more valuable personal possessions in the event of major hurricanes, storm surges or other catastrophic events.
In addition, marsh lands could be employed as boundaries around communities and valuable commercial real estate which abut a major waterway or ocean. Sand dunes may be upgraded with geotextile tubes covered with sand to protect beach areas impacted by hurricane force winds and storm surges.
Geotextile tubes represent an important component for reinforcing dunes and protecting vulnerable coastal areas against extreme weather events and accompanying water surges. There may be geotextile vulnerability due to puncture failures along with seam and port strength issues with the manufactured tubes.
In rural and recreational areas which abut oceans, hurricane storm shutters may be employed to protect windows from great winds. Storm rated shutters are made from high quality woods like mahogany.
These shutters have unparalleled strength and protective value. There is a brace between the top of the window frame and the ground for single family dwellings. The wind shear hits the brace, the wind and rain disperse and the windows are protected from breakage.
Seawall barriers may be used to afford protection against wind and wave damage. These barriers are concrete structures that are reinforced with steel and adapted for use in applications which exist to preserve and maintain properties which abut waterways. There always is a need for an improved type of seawall barrier that can be located easily on a shoreline in order to limit or prevent erosion.
Dam safety is another important issue for local communities during storms. The problem involves high wind, overturning moments and the mitigation of flood damage local to dams.
Dam reinforcement issues include providing for overturning moments, adequate tensile strength and stability of the concrete, as well as shear friction issues and the compressive load of the structure itself. The shear friction issues may include the concrete surface as well as the shear resistance of the reinforced steel. Classically, Euler’s formula is employed for buckling issues in the structural evaluation. In addition, low lying drains may be tested for operability in local dam applications, as well as contingency planning preparation for a major hurricane or other catastrophic event in proximity to a dam.
Each time a major hurricane, flood, or even an earthquake event happens, the existing municipal and industrial contingency and disaster recovery plans should be upgraded in light of the experience gained during the catastrophic event. In addition, home owners and commercial establishments should work with their insurers and with FEMA in order to get funding to rebuild their homes and businesses. Sometimes, locating homes inland may be a better long term solution over simply rebuilding structures in harm’s way.