Adaptation: (Re)Building Sensibly

11/05/2012 08:28 pm ET Updated Jan 05, 2013
The house made famous by the cast of MTVs Jersey Shore is empty two days after superstorm Sandy rolled through the coast, Wed
The house made famous by the cast of MTVs Jersey Shore is empty two days after superstorm Sandy rolled through the coast, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, in Seaside Heights, N.J. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

It is now time to look forward to healing in the aftermath of Sandy. We have a lot of questions to ask ourselves to ensure we aren't in a challenging place in the future.

1) Do we believe that a changing climate will continue to shower us with random natural disasters, especially along our coastlines?

2) If we believe that we will experience future events that might put us in harm's way, what should we do about it?

3) Should we rebuild areas that were destroyed in the storm? Or should we consider leaving them unbuilt? As a consideration, we need to evaluate land which is publicly versus privately owned. With public ownership, we may consider creating open spaces filled with nature, which can serve as a resilient buffer to many weather-related hazards. With private ownership, do we need to enact new building standards akin to quake-proofing? Whatever the case, my hope is that community leaders with many different perspectives sit down and develop a sensible plan, rather than just rebuilding exactly as things were, without thought.

Sandy actually gives us a chance to rebuild a lot of infrastructure in a sensible way. We know a lot more today than we did when houses, apartment buildings, roads and mass-transit systems were built 100 years ago. Let's take all of that knowledge and swiftly, yet thoroughly, incorporate it into executable plans which will work for the long term.