Eugene Robinson is right [“Keeping the next storm at bay,” op-ed, Nov. 6]. As a country, we must act swiftly to reevaluate our nation’s system of storm and flood protection and to strategically invest significant federal resources in infrastructure before the next Hurricane Sandy.
But building big isn’t the only answer. We cannot simply build seawalls and tidal gates or armor our shorelines as a way out of the impacts from future storms. As Sandy and other recent superstorms have made clear, the forces of nature are too powerful.
As we move past short-term response operations, long-term recovery and related rebuilding plans must harness the capacity of our natural environment to lessen the impacts of storms. In light of the highly urbanized shoreline along much of the East Coast, we have a responsibility to ensure that all long-term recovery and related infrastructure improvements include restoring coastal wetlands and living resources such as oyster reefs and salt marshes that knock down storm waves and reduce devastating storm surges before they reach the people and property along the shore.
Federal investments that incorporate these types of projects are the only way we will see safe, resilient coastal communities in the decades to come.
Jeff Benoit, Arlington
The writer is president and chief executive of Restore America’s Estuaries.