Building Resilient Coastlines

Building Resilient Coastlines

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Large ocean wave crashing on a wooden pier with American flag pole in the water
October 17, 2017

The U.S. government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars over the past decade to rebuild U.S. cities following hurricanes, yet coastlines remain vulnerable to repeat disaster. Two Penn urban policy experts discuss coastal resiliency and the process by which government allocates recovery funds.

Federal spending on hurricane disaster relief has risen dramatically since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005. Federal agencies have paid out $200 billion dollars for coastal recovery since.  And, more recently, Texas governor Greg Abbott projected that recovery from Hurricane Harvey could total $150 billion or more.

As spending rises, the need to ensure that coastal towns and cities are more resilient to future, repeat disasters has come to the forefront.  And, with much of the nation’s oil refining and chemical industry located in low lying coastal areas, the challenge includes fortifying energy infrastructure, and protecting communities from toxic hazards.

Ellen Neises and Billy Fleming, urban policy experts at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design, discuss the process government uses to select and fund recovery projects, and how coastal areas can be made more resilient.


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