By Alison Jones, No Water No Life Director
NWNL sends our sympathies to those suffering from Hermine’s winds and rains. As this hurricane slashes its way north, we hope for the least amount of flood damage possible.
As 2012’s Superstorm Sandy and August’s Louisiana Floods showed, we have created a bad scenario along our waterways. Our approach to coastal development is probably as much to blame for flooding devastation as is the severe weather due to the warming of our atmosphere by climate change.
Ten days ago NWNL wrote a blog on the Louisiana flooding noting the critical need for green infrastructure in order to mitigate storm impacts. We also urged the adaptation of alternative energies to fossil fuels.
Andrew Revkin, renowned science and environmental journalist, retweeted our blog, saying: “Super No Water No Life post on hazards with growth in a soggy state.” Today Revkin’s New York Times Dot Earth blog details how we’ve lost awareness of the reality and the raison d’etre of floodplains and wetlands.
Our coastlands and riverine corridors are meant to filter and absorb both floodwaters and their nutrients. They are meant to be nutrient-rich ecosystems for flora and fauna, that in turn support human needs. The water’s edge was never meant to be a platform for tipi’s, trailers, cottages or mansions.
Indigenous builders respected Nature’s rhythms and whims. Their homes were simply-built and often mobile. If destroyed, their ruin did not pollute land or water with masses of chemical or plastic debris. The French, who settled in Creole communities up and down the Lower Mississippi River 200 years ago, also paid attention to the realities of flooding rivers and deltas. They knew better than to rebuild time and time again in flood paths.
This summer NWNL cruised New Jersey’s Sandy Hook inland waterway – the lovely Shrewsbury and Navasink Rivers. It was shocking to see that this spit of land, like so many, has been completely re-built since Sandy’s whiplash destruction.
Those of us on this NY/NJ Baykeeper cruise cringed to think what would happen when the lapping waters of August next jumped over relatively minimal breakwaters and seawalls. We are cringing again this weekend. If not this weekend, when?