Reflections on Sandy

It's time we as a nation re-envision our coasts.

A little over a year ago, the storm known as Sandy made landfall along the East Coast. It is impossible to reflect on the storm's lasting impact without acknowledging the tremendous loss that people in the affected area endured. Entire livelihoods—some passed down from generation to generation—were lost. Small businesses and family homes were wiped out with one storm.

We know that, unfortunately, devastating storms like Sandy will continue to occur and can happen anywhere along the nation's coasts. Sandy represents a turning point in the conversations happening among scientists, city planners, politicians, and communities on developing more resilient and sustainable coasts going into the future. The value of coastal resiliency is taking center stage in the national conversation about preparing for future storms. The National Ocean Service plays a critical role in this discussion.

It is time we as a nation re-envision our coasts! Instead of higher seawalls and breakwaters, those barriers should be mixed with natural lands, dunes, salt marshes, and seagrass that provide a protective layer that can absorb wave and wind energy. This will require resources and public support, but this is a time of opportunity to use resources more wisely, to create vibrant communities that are resilient in the face of change. NOS plays a key role in this approach by providing the best available observations, resources, products, and services to communities to plan in times of calm, before the storm.

I’m very pleased with the good work being done across the National Ocean Service to address Sandy impacts. You can learn more about NOS activities related to Sandy efforts here.

Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D.
Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal
Zone Management, National Ocean Service