Hurricane Sandy Recovery, One Year Later

A year after Hurricane Sandy, recovery efforts are still ongoing, and questions remain about how to rebuild and prepare the coastlines for the next storm. A group of experts discusses rebuilding and protective options — from sea walls to "oyster-tecture" — and considers calls for a "managed retreat" from the shore.

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: To judge by Times Square today, Sandy seemed to be more of a myth. But downtown, it's clear the Big Apple took a big hit.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Yeah, look at his whole neighborhood right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Aw, man.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The system that carries 5 million riders every day still a deluged tunnel of darkness.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: Block after block, mile after mile of this kind of ruins. And in that wreckage behind me, we can hear the gas lines hissing.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN#5: The Jersey Shore of my youth, where we used to go all the time, it is gone.

FLATOW: Those were the sounds from one year ago when Superstorm Sandy slammed into the New York region. The epic storm destroyed and reshaped parts of the coastline. It moved sand and cement, homes and habitats. Politicians vowed to rebuild. New York Mayor Bloomberg put out his own proposal for long term sustainable planning. New Jersey Governor Christie, the last voice in that montage, said his state would rebound and the federal government, after months of talking, allocated $51 billion for recovery.

But what would it really take to build back smarter - adding back the sand, nourishing the beaches as it's called, putting buildings up on stilts? Or maybe we shouldn't rebuild all of it and instead, retreat in some places from the coastline as rising seas promise to bring back big storm surges. That's what we'll be talking about this hour.

Our number is 1-800-989-8255. 1-800-989-TALK. You can also tweet us @SciFri. And if you want more information, you can go to our website, it's ScienceFriday.com. Let me introduce my guest. Robert Young is a professor of coastal geology and the director of the program for the study of developed shorelines at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.

ROBERT YOUNG: Great to be with you, Ira.

FLATOW: Thank you. Joseph Vietri is the director of the National Planning Center for Coastal and Storm Damage for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in New York. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.

JOSEPH VIETRI: Thank you for having me.

FLATOW: You're welcome. Phil Orton. Philip Orton is a research scientist in physical oceanography at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, which really got hit hard by Sandy. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.

PHILIP ORTON: Thank you for having me.

FLATOW: Joe, let me ask you to bring us up to date on what is the Army Corps doing now. What is it working on now?

VIETRI: Well, the Corps of Engineers has looked at this as a multi-prong approach. One is to try to stabilize the existing situation in the short term, secondly by looking at what studies or evaluations were under way prior to Sandy and looking to re-tool those based on the information and the knowledge gained actually during Sandy.

And then lastly, looking at the long term consequences on a regional scale as to, again, much like your intro mentioned, to see what would be the suite of options that would be available to us across the region, including, of course, relocations, elevating houses, et cetera. So right now, in the short term, we are basically repairing our existing portfolio of projects that were damaged as a result of Hurricane Sandy. That is, those jobs that were previously constructed and served as that sacrificial, you know, fill for absorbing the storm energy associated with Sandy.

So we're working on that right now and we're also going about in a really expeditious manner in terms of trying to make sure that all of our navigation channels that received increased sedimentation are also addressed as part of Sandy. And at the same time we're looking at the long term.

FLATOW: In the short term you're putting - you're refilling the beaches with sand and putting - elevating homes. Let's talk about the houses. How does the elevation or the putting them up on stilts work?

VIETRI: Well, in many of the locations here, we have homes. We have a barrier island system and then of course we have an estuary and a back bay environment. Typically on Long Island, in one stretch, 83 miles from Fire Island to Montauk Point, we had been working on a plan for probably over a decade to elevate about 4,500 homes that are located within the 10-year flood plain.

To put that into context for you, there are approximately 27,000 homes that are located in the 100-year flood plain and that is with our sea level rise and our numbers as we see them now. If you were to extrapolate this, you know, say, 50 years, 100 years into the future, the number could quadruple.

So obviously you see, as time moves on here, we have a very severe problem that we have to address.

FLATOW: And who pays for elevating all those houses?

VIETRI: Well, in some cases it's been a combination of different authorities. In some cases, using community block grant money through Housing and Urban Development. The states have started, undertaken some of this work. There has been some work undertaken in the past, prior to, you know, with FEMA funding. Individual homeowners have chosen to do it, some of them themselves.

And then, of course, lastly, the Corps of Engineers is looking at that elevation of that 4,500 homes and that would be borne by the federal government also.

FLATOW: So mostly, we're talking about taxpayer money, local, federal...

VIETRI: That is correct.

FLATOW: Rob Young, do you think elevating houses and structures is the way to go here?

YOUNG: Well, if the structures are going to remain in place, you'd certainly rather have them elevated than not. The problem with relying on elevating structures as your primary adaptation measure following a storm like Sandy is that it doesn't remove the property from the hazard area. It just lifts the property up above the hazard area.

So, for example, if you're on the ocean front or an estuarine shoreline, and we raise your home, you may be raised above the flood, but that doesn't stop the coastal erosion and it doesn't stop long term sea level rise. So if elevating properties is your primary response, then that means that we still have to commit ourselves to holding the shoreline in place in front of those properties for the foreseeable future.

So, you know, to me, simply relying primarily on elevating structures, which is what we've been doing post-Sandy, is problematic in the long run.

FLATOW: And your solution would be what?

YOUNG: Well, we need to begin a strategy where some of these oceanfront resort communities in particular, where those properties that are the most vulnerable in areas where there's repeat damage and identifiable risk from a scientific perspective, and the scientists and hazard specialists know where these places are, local emergency managers know where these places are, you know, we need to begin a managed retreat from those areas.

And when I say managed retreat, I don't mean we go in there and we rip the houses down. That's now how we do things in the United States, and I'm not suggesting that we abandon the shore. What it means is that in these areas that have experienced repeat damage, where there's particularly high vulnerability, we should be pulling public funds.

And if those individuals continue to choose to invest in those areas, they should be doing it on their own dime.

FLATOW: Phil Orton, you work with ocean modeling and that means making a computer model out of the oceans and of storm systems. Do you have Sandy as a computer model now?

ORTON: Yes, we do. And we've been very eager to get a good sample of Sandy - a good model of Sandy from the weather to the storm surge side, so we've put a lot of effort into that. We've got many storms that we can test, we can sort of throw at the coastline and run experiments on.

FLATOW: And you can see how the coastline would react and the consequences of the storm?

ORTON: Well, for just studying the flooding, that's much simpler, the flooding and the waves, so the storm tide and the waves. Studying how the erosion occurs is much more complex and we aren't doing that at Stevens Institute.

FLATOW: I heard one meteorologist say that back in, was it 1992, there was that famous perfect storm that they made the novel and the movie out of. And the reason no one really talked about it until the novel and the movie came out is that it never really hit shore. It was sort of out in the ocean. Is that correct?

ORTON: Yeah. Oh, and one correction. At Stevens Institute, with our group, we're not modeling erosion of the coast, but of course we have several researchers studying the erosion of the coast with other techniques. And on the perfect storm, your question there, the perfect storm is a very good example of something similar to Sandy where it was a hurricane that came up the North Atlantic and it made a left turn in 1991, I think.

And we've got a model of that storm, too, actually. And it hovered south of Cape Cod and it never made landfall anywhere. But it was the highest ever storm surge at Boston.

FLATOW: Joe, you were working during that perfect storm, were you not?

VIETRI: I certainly was, and much of the plans that we're working on now came about as a result of some of the responses to that storm. I also want to back up just one moment and just address one issue that came up here about this notion of resort communities. If you really look at these areas that were particularly hard hit in Long and New York City - Rockaway, Coney Island, Long Beach - I would suggest to you that they're probably anything but resort communities. In fact, they're regular blue collar working people who go to work every day. And if you think about it from the notion of a patient who goes to the hospital who's bleeding profusely, you don't really sit down with that patient and discuss their long-term prognosis. You first try to stop the bleeding while you have this more meaningful, you know, conversation about their long term prognosis.

And so our approach has been to that, and even as recently as this morning the president released his executive order on looking at the effect and trying to prepare communities for the changes in climate change and sea level rise. So we take this notion very, very seriously, and you know, I would like to tell you it started with '92. But it did not. You know, if you look in the Long Island, New York City area, we can go back to '38, we can go back to 1960, 1962, 1992, seems like every 30 years we have this so-called storm of the century, each one having a catastrophic effect on our landscape.

Now, difference here on this one is Sandy actually has gotten people to actually start sitting down and talking about the effects of sea level rise and climate change. I've been doing this for 30 years and this is the first time that I've gotten this kind of what I would like to say interactive dialogue going on with all levels of government and all levels of - excuse me - on what the long term solution set might look like.

FLATOW: And do they want to - is it possible to discuss something that might take 50 years to plan for?

VIETRI: You have - all of this is not about engineering and science in my opinion. This is about societal and political will. It is about the ability to change behaviors and behavior patterns. And so no, they don't want to talk about that. What they want to really talk about is what's going to happen for me today. I'm out of my house, thousands of people are still homeless. What are we doing to get people back in those communities?

Now, I would agree with you, we do have to look at this long term, and you have to look at it down, you know, into 50 years and 100 years into the future, because some of these locations might be untenable, you know, that far out into the future, some of these barrier islands, etc. So you have to stop the bleeding while at the same time you're trying to talk to them about what the long-term consequences of some of these actions are that are currently in place.

FLATOW: Rob Young, do you think it's possible to do that.

YOUNG: Well, which is exactly why we need a plan in place when storms hit. I mean the problem with our response to Hurricane Sandy is that we had no plan for what we were going to do following a storm like this. You know, we learned almost no lessons from Katrina. So you know, you're absolutely right that it's very difficult to go into these communities in the middle of an emergency and develop a managed retreat plan on the fly.

And so the easiest thing to do when you have no plan is to basically do what we were doing before. And you know, I think part of the problem is that many of the projects that the Corps designs for coastal protection, beach nourishments projects, they actually have sort of a 50 year planning horizon, and I think that gives much of the public the impression that it's going to be possible to hold all these shorelines in place for 50 years. And you know, I simply think that that's impractical. And I'm not saying that there aren't some...

FLATOW: Alright, you're getting - we'll talk more about it. I've got to go to a break. Talking with Robert Young, Joseph Vietri and Phil Orton. We'll be right back after this break. Stay with us.

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FLATOW: I'm Ira Flatow, this is SCIENCE FRIDAY. We're talking with Robert Young, Joseph VIETRI and Philip Orton about lessons learned Hurricane then Superstorm Sandy. Our number, 1-800-989, 8255. And when I rudely interrupted Rob Young, he was telling us about whether it's possible - you were sort of critical of the Army Corps of Engineers there. It sounded to me - and I will ask our guest, Joe, about this - it sounds like they are trying to figure out long-term solutions but they have the politics involved also.

YOUNG: Well, the Corps has got a tough job. You know? I mean they have demands placed on them from all different quarters, and they are typically asked for a level of protection that, you know, I think is impossible to guarantee. And to finish the thought that I was in the middle of, if you don't mind, what I was saying is that there probably are some places where beach nourishment makes sense. But the fact of the matter is, we can't do it everywhere. And right now we don't have a good national plan that allows us to look at the entire East Coast, the entire Gulf Coast, and from a national perspective do a very good job bringing in the best science and the best engineering and the best economics to decide where we're going to spend that money.

Right now our spending is purely reactive. We have a big storm and, you know, the Corps is given approximately $4 billion that they need to spend in the North Atlantic division on coastal protection projects. Is that the best place to spend it? Maybe. But it sure would be nice if we had, you know, a well-organized scientific national plan to prioritize that spending.

FLATOW: Phil, what happens when you add good - you add barriers and you restore the wetlands and you put them into your storm model, because that's what some people are saying, you know, we got to get those barrier islands, not just make sand dunes, we've got to create real, real living islands there and restore the wetlands because they will help sop up some of the damage that occurs. So what happens when you put that in your model?

ORTON: Well, barrier islands are probably the best protection you can have for a back bay region, although it depends on how wide and deep the inlets are into the back bays. But barrier islands are a very good protection, and they are already there, in most places. The wetlands that are often in the embayments have been degrading a lot, especially in urban areas due largely to nitrogen inputs from sewage treatment. And those wetlands as they - when they're there and they're strong, they can reduce flooding. There's sort of a rule of thumb, which is very approximate, but it does give some sense of how much wetland area you need. And that is that it takes a few miles of wetland to reduce the flood type by about a foot.

So there is a little bit of a misnomer for urban areas, that you can have a hundred feet of wetland and that might help protect a, you know, urban waterfront. You really need these big, big coastal areas.

FLATOW: Big coastal areas. You ran an experiment, which you tried a 20-foot high reef outside of New York Harbor in your model, did you not? What happened there?

ORTON: Oh, well, we ran - you know, a lot of this is experimentation with the designers and myself putting out ideas; the landscape designers, and then testing them out in the model. And so, one idea was to have a large reef offshore of the mouth of Raritan Bay, sort of where the entrance channel to New York Harbor comes in, Ambrose Channel.

And it actually didn't work. It didn't reduce - the idea was that it would reduce wave breaking into the harbor, which can raise sea levels a small amount inside the harbor, but it actually didn't help. For the one storm we studied with that experiment, which was Hurricane Donna from 1960. We may get a different result for a category 3 hurricane test that we're planning on doing, or for Sandy, but.... But so far, that was one of the non-successes.

FLATOW: Mm-huh. And another idea you explored is shallowing the shipping channels, for example in Jamaica Bay, right there by where JFK Airport is. What could that do?

ORTON: Yeah, so, you know, shipping channels into our major ports like Newark and Elizabeth are very important to our regions' economies. But there's certain shipping channels now that are used much less frequently like Rockaway and the shipping channels along the northern and southern parts of Jamaica Bay, which are where the populations are around Jamaica Bay. And right now they basically deliver the storm surge water very quickly without any attenuation around the shallow areas and the wetland areas in the center of the bay. They just deliver it straight to the neighborhoods.

So, one thing that we realized early on - and we saw with experimentation - was that the wetlands don't reduce the flooding on their own very much. They can reduce waves, and that helps. But if you combine, if you just have a shallowing of these deep channels, then it can slow the water reaching those neighborhoods and force it more into the wetlands instead of going around them.

And you can reduce the flooding for a storm like Sandy by several feet, or even eliminate flooding altogether inside the bay after the water travels over 10 kilometers of shallower water.

FLATOW: Joe Vietri, speaking for the Corps, what do you say are the components of a good coastal defense?

VIETRI: Well, I think there's two things. One, just backing up a second on this lack of a comprehensive strategy. One of the things that came about as a result of the Sandy Supplemental Bill is the fact that the Corps of Engineers was given $20 million to develop a regional and comprehensive evaluation of the long-term risk and vulnerability along the entire North Atlantic shoreline, roughly about 31,000 miles.

And I just want to say for the record that, you know, some of the things we are looking at is strategic retreat in addition to all the suite of nonstructural and structural solution sets.

But in terms of what the Corps looks at in terms of what we would see adequate defenses, we like to think of it as tiered levels of defense, much like in old Medieval times, you had the castle wall. And but before you got to that castle wall, you had a moat, you maybe had a killing field, you had something else. And so for us, and I think this has been borne out time and time again, certainly in our performance evaluation of the project immediately in the aftermath of Sandy, we've seen where you had a very healthy beach dune system you tended to have far, far less damages than where you did not.

So, clearly for us it would be a healthy barrier island system including, you know, a decent berm in the dune system. And then a very healthy estuary. And, you know, in these ecological features in the estuaries, whether it be marsh or salt marsh or islands, etc., etc., are also suffering the same threats that our population centers are as well. They are also taking the hit associated with in addition to the, you know, the nitrogen loading. But also, you know, basically, you change the sea level rise, have a potential to affect them dramatically, as well as, you know, basically, settlement of these wetlands.

So we're losing a large amount of wetlands. And this is going on around the country. You definitely see it in Jamaica Bay, Great South Bay and Riches Bay in our area.

So, for us, we like to look at as basically a combination of gray and green infrastructure, and so, with tiered levels of defense, and I think that is basically going to be right now, and it's certainly started in coastal Mississippi, and it's carrying its way forward here into the New York region, as what you're going to see coming out of a lot these activities that are being undertaken both by the Corps as well as others. The mayor's plan just recently released also relies heavily on this tiered levels of defense.

FLATOW: Rob Young, what's wrong with these sort of soft infrastructure ideas that have - sounds like a reasonable plan. Critique it for us.

YOUNG: Well, building beaches, through beach fill projects is, certainly in my opinion, a better way to protect coastal infrastructure than building massive seawalls is. If you build those seawalls, you're going to have to pump a beach up in front of them anyway. But I think we should understand, and we need to remember that these beaches used to be ecosystems. And there are beaches in New Jersey that don't have a natural grain of sand on them. I mean, they're completely artificial constructs now designed to protect property.

And if you're building beach fill projects as storm protection projects rather than ecosystem restoration projects, then, you know, you have a totally different set of criteria in mind. And if you look at some of the, quote-unquote, "natural dunes" that are being built in some of the post-Sandy projects, you know, these are giant trapezoids. They don't look like natural dune fields anymore. We're not building ecosystems on our beaches. We're replacing them with storm protection projects, and in some places where we've been doing this for a long time, that's probably an appropriate response.

But it's not a model that we'd like to export to the entire United States of America. It's hard to find beaches in some states nowadays that have never had fill dumped on them, and I don't think we have any idea what the cumulative impacts of doing all of these projects will be on the near shore Benthic environment. You know, the Corps is planning on moving 20 to 20 million cubic yards of sand in New Jersey and New York post-Sandy over the next couple of years, and, you know, that's equivalent to removing - making holes the size of 10 large football stadiums to borrow that sand, and then you spread it along the beach and bury the near shore surf zone with that material.

And in some places it might be appropriate, but, you know, I think that we don't have any real perspective on what the long-term cumulative environmental impacts are of doing these kinds of projects, and we're only going to have to do them more frequently in the future.

FLATOW: Joe Vietri of the Corps, are you - is that the kind of thing that you're going to be doing, or are you going to be - I thought I heard you say it requires a lot more....

(LAUGHTER)

VIETRI: ...deal with the factual inaccuracies in that statement, which, you know, these projects are heavily monitored there. It is true there has been a lot of sand placement along these shorelines going back probably since the 1930s and even maybe before. There's a large body of evidence and a large body of historical evidence that supports that in a lot of these locations there is no environmental impact, you know, to doing this type of practice.

Now, is this the solution set for the long-term and well into the future? I would agree, you know, with Professor Young. I think that we have to look at other solution sets. And it really is a function of both, one, a financial ability to do this. If you look at, you know, the different sea level rise scenarios, it's been about 12 inches in 100 years, midpoint, let's say we're talking probably about two feet.

But we could go up as high as six feet in 100 years. And so, you know, when you get into those upper regions of that curve, you know, and those kind of numbers, all bets are off. You know, it really is a question of what is the economic viability of this. If you're talking about it in terms of renourishment sequence even at the highest maximum level of six feet in 100 years, these beaches are maintained roughly every four years.

Map real quickly, you'll see you're dealing with only about a three inch change in sea level rise in any one nourishment period. The good part about the renourishment is if you stop it, things go back to the way they were fairly quickly. And I would agree 100 percent - I am very much and we are very much do not recommend walls or any kind of vertically aligned structures along an open ocean coastline.

We tend to look for these more softer solutions, which is beach fill. And until such time as the economics don't work or we see some sort of environmental consequence, right now that remains in the tool bag available for, you know, use. It doesn't mean it's the only thing. It doesn't mean it should be used everywhere, but it should certainly remain in the tool bag.

FLATOW: Phil Orton, you've said that one of the things in your tool bag that you've explored would be landscape architecture in the form of oyster-tecture. What is oyster-tecture about?

ORTON: Oyster-tecture is the concept of growing oyster reefs as wave breaking coastal protection in harbor areas in particular. And, I mean, it's a good thing to steer toward here. We've only been talking about the open shore mainly and back bays so far but when we think about New York Harbor, we've just got such large populations that the thought of retreat is even more difficult to think about.

And so we're looking at New York Harbor and Staten Island shores and we're looking at how these reefs could, on one hand, be used to reduce the physical threat and prove physical resiliency of the shoreline by reducing the wave heights that could overtop the coastal barriers or dunes or whatever's there.

But also having community interaction, schools involved, and this is already actually occurring in New York Harbor with Governor's Island Harbor School and landscape design. So having more community involvement, education, people actually involved in building these protections and seeding these oyster reefs, and then having more...

FLATOW: So how big would the - how big would an oyster reef be?

ORTON: Let me just...

FLATOW: How high would it be?

ORTON: Yeah. Let me finish that one thought. And so then you can also have social resilience also by having people actually interact with the hazard, the tides, the water, and know more about it and not be surprised, as they were with Sandy, that, you know, the peak flooding came at high tide and that it got over the landscaped, you know, edge and came into their neighborhoods.

They'll have more of an understanding of the hazards. So you have sociological resilience on top of physical resilience.

FLATOW: Let me remind everybody that this is SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR. I'm Ira Flatow talking with Rob Young, Phil Orton, and Joe Vietri. I'm sorry to keep interrupting you, Phil. Go ahead. Finish up that thought on the oysters because that's fascinating.

ORTON: Yeah. So the heights of the reefs, it depends on where you are, but the idea is that they fill most of the water - you know, that oysters can grow up to near the sea surface, you know, so they may dry during low tide and be wet during high tide. And then when there's a storm then the waves in the harbor which, you know, you don't get huge waves in New York Harbor in particular but you could imagine Barnegat Bay also as another site we're looking at.

VIETRI: Or Raritan Bay in front of Staten Island. And you can get pretty large waves and so these could break those large waves before they reach the waterfront.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm. And this could be undertaken locally by the local population? Or would they need assistance?

ORTON: Yeah. It's something that's already occurring with a fair amount of success. You know, the history of New York Harbor is that it was one of — maybe the world's leading oyster capital for harvesting oysters 150 years ago to 100 years ago. And then of course pollution wiped it out. So there are schools — there's a lot of groups right now in sort of a frenzy about oysters.

And oysters on, you know, like I said, they can reduce - so it's being successful already to regrow them in the harbor. One thing I'd say is that they can reduce wave heights but they're not very good for reducing the total flood height. So they can prevent the waves from overtopping a waterfront, you know.

But they're not as good throughout - you know, even if you put them throughout the harbor it's not clear from the modeling so far that they reduce flooding very much as a mean water level during a storm surge.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm. 1-800-989-8255. How accurate, Phil, is our knowledge of what the sea level rise is going to be if you're going to plan for it? How do we know what it's going to be like in 10 or 15 years?

ORTON: Well, the New York City Panel on Climate Change just put out a new assessment of sea level rise locally in our area and we have a little bit of land subsidence so it's a little bit different than the global sea level rise value. And also there's some ocean circulation changes that look like they're causing sea level rise to be worse across our region.

So the estimate for the 2050s, I think the low end estimate, you know, it's quite a bit uncertainty. I think the mean estimate is about a foot and a half of sea level rise by the decade of the 2050s. But the low end is more like nine inches and the upper end is more like three feet. So it's a very large uncertainty still, unfortunately.

FLATOW: If I looked at those charts correctly, it looked like Florida was really in the bull's eye of that sea rise.

ORTON: Florida is in a lot of danger if you compare New York City's sea level rise problem to Florida, to Miami sea level rise problem. Miami, if you get a sea level rise of maybe six feet - or one way to put it is for every foot, and this is based on the Surging Sea's tool online from Climate Center, you can dial up different sea level rise levels.

And in Florida with every foot of sea level rise beyond maybe two feet, they start losing the space to high tide, that five or ten percent, with every extra foot of the population that lives on around Miami. So you think of six feet of sea level rise they lose a massive amount of their populated area. And fortunately, New York City has a lot of high ground and we only lose about one percent of the populated land area.

You know, the area that population lives on. Only about one percent of the people lose their land area for every foot of sea level rise. So it's a little bit better for New York City that we do have some high ground.

FLATOW: Well, we're going to have to leave it there. This is certainly just the start of a conversation about the new normal and how to deal with the flooding coastlines. I want to thank all of you for taking time to be with us today. Joe Vietri is director of national planning, Center for Coastal and Storm Damage for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in New York. Robert Young, professor of coastal geology at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina.

Phil Orton, research scientist in physical oceanography at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. Thank you all for taking time to be with us today. We're going to take a break. When we come back we're going to talk about building your own camera, digital camera. Stay with us. We'll be right back. I'm Ira Flatow. This is SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR.

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