A couple of years ago, I walked along a flood-protection wall in the oceanfront New Jersey town of Sea Bright and wondered how severe weather would affect it. Now I know.
Photos show waves overtopping the wall and sweeping through the streets of the town, very close to where Hurricane Sandy made landfall on Oct. 29.
Many cities and states have drawn up plans to increase resilience to catastrophes, but there has been little impetus to act on anything that’s costly or requires complex negotiations.
….Rebuilding natural dunes is a “soft” path to coastal restoration. The dunes repel waves and feed the beach with sand. Many shorefront owners will demand higher seawalls, which is the “hard” path, and it has drawbacks.
Engineered fortifications also destroy the beach ecology and the amenity that draws people and creates jobs. Seawalls can induce permanent loss of beach sand, requiring even higher walls. For that matter, dune building isn’t foolproof; dunes slowed Sandy’s surge but didn’t stop extensive flooding..