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In this paper, we will be exploring the natural hazard of coastal flooding. Coastal flooding is a natural hazard that is prevalent in areas where development occurs alongside existing beach fronts (Heritage N.F,2019). According to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of America, warming climate and ocean temperatures are projected to increase sea levels by around 2.5m by 2100, thus increasing the frequency and severity of flooding events in many coastal communities around the world (Borkhataria, 2017).
One of the major impacts of coastal flooding is property damage.
In 1929 for example, communities in the Burin Peninsula in Newfoundland experienced severe coastal flooding caused by a Tsunami, resulting from 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the Grand Banks. (Batterson, Liverman, Ryan and Taylor, 2019). The property damage caused totaled around 1 million dollars (1929 value) (Heritage N.F, 2019). The biggest concern about property damage caused by coastal flooding is that it could threaten the existence of small coastal nations (Borkhataria, 2017).
One potential initiative to help reduce the impacts of coastal flooding is to establish or restore mangrove forests.
A mangrove refers to a group of salt-tolerant species of trees and shrubs that establish themselves in moist, saline environments (e.g. mudflats) (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2018). A key benefit of mangrove areas is that the far-reaching root system of mangrove plants helps to both stabilize landforms and act as a buffer between maritime and terrestrial habitats (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2018). One mangrove restoration technique that has been successfully tested is the construction of mangrove suitable sites that match the hydrology of the local area coupled with planting of mangrove seedlings or saplings (Lewis III,10).
One advantage of this restoration technique is that the raising of mangrove saplings in nurseries and subsequent planting can help to provide economic boom to residents in surrounding communities who can then help to sustain the project when the initial team leaves (Lewis III,11).
One main disadvantage of this technique is that it involves building an entirely new mangrove area instead of working with pre-existing hydrology, resulting in costly investments of time (e.g. more digging), material (e.g. construction vehicle fuel) and resources (e.g. hydrological surveyors, hydrological engineers, etc.) (Lewis III,11). Another successful restoration technique involves the reconnection of isolated, pre-existing mangrove areas to areas exposed to regular tidal cycles without planting of nursery raised seedlings/saplings (Lewis III,10). A key advantage of this restoration approach is that it connects fragmented mangrove areas to pre-existing tidal zones, instead of constructing an entirely new sites, thereby reducing costs (Lewis III,10). A key disadvantage of this approach is that although it’s cheaper, there are not as many direct economic opportunities when compared to the previous restoration method (e.g. no planters, nursery workers.) (Lewis II, 11).
Another pre-disaster initiative that can be implemented in order to mitigate the impacts of coastal flooding is through renovating homes and buildings to include water resistant door/entrances (Meikle, 2014). In a 2014 study, the UK Environmental agency found that purpose-made flood protection renovations offered the greatest flood protection benefits (Mekikle,2014). One of the benefits of installing flood resistant doors when installed correctly, is that it could reduce the severity of flood damage incurred by property owners, thus reducing the amount of time spent in temporary shelters and enables faster community re-establishment (Mekikle,2014). A key drawback of this initiative is that the costs can in some cases be prohibitive. For example, specialized custom doors average about 1500 pound in the UK (Mekikle,2014) but installation costs could be much higher in island nations that do not have the manufacturing capacity to make the door themselves.
A third way to mitigate the impact of coastal flooding is to conduct urban planning before approving the construction of buildings or communities in a previously undisturbed area. Urban planning refers to the job of managing how a town/city grows and functions that comprehensively address a wide range of issues that result from that growth (Collins, 2019). One of the key benefits of urban planning is that it takes into consideration of a variety of stakeholders in order to reach a conclusion that meets the tangible and intangible interests of all parties involved (Graeme et al, 2018). One of the key drawbacks of this approach relates to the potential of bias in the planning process (Management Study guide, 2018). By consulting a wide range of stakeholders, not everyone is equal in terms of finances and political clout, which could possibly lead to plans being catered to parties with the greatest finances and political clout instead of all stakeholders.
Building of sand bag barriers is another possible solution to mitigating some of the damage caused by coastal floods. Sand bag barriers construction involves filling bags with sand and then stacking them in a tight dam-like formation (Meikle,2014). One of the key advantages of this approach is that sand is cheap, making it easy to acquire (Meikle,2014). One major disadvantage of this approach is that the sandbags may be troublesome to dispose of, as the sand absorbs all organic and inorganic chemicals that become waterborne as a result of the flood, which would then have led to costly decontamination procedures (Meikle,2014).
Increasing insurance premiums for beachfront properties could be another solution to mitigating the impacts of coastal flooding. In order to achieve this, insurance companies could develop pricing models that include factors such as erosion potential, which would dissuade investment in beachfront property due to increased risk of erosion on the waterfront as opposed to properties further inland. A major advantage of this approach, is that could decrease the amount of beachfront properties built, thus reducing potential damages to a community in the event of a major coastal flood. A major disadvantage of this approach is that owners or potential buyers of beachfront properties could simply move to other companies willing to insure their risky property instead of finding another property further inland.
Another method that could possibly help to address coastal flooding impacts is the promotion of products and services that help preserve natural coastal barriers. For example, scuba diving of mangrove forests in countries that preserve them could be promoted instead of ones that do not preserve them, in order to increase economic opportunities in those areas.
Evacuation planning can help to reduce the number of casualties resulting from coastal flooding. Evacuation planning has many elements that need consideration including: How will people be evacuated, where will people evacuate to and lists of necessary materials (CCOHS,2019). One of the main benefits of emergency planning is that it will help to lessen panic among a communities’ residents, because when there is a plan in place, they will know exactly what to do in order to survive during and after a coastal flooding event (CCOHS,2019).
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