More than five years after “Superstorm” Sandy hit the Rhode Island coast, Westerly is still working at reversing some of the environmental damage that Sandy’s storm surge inflicted, which some put at more than $20 million.
In a three-part series that begins in this week’s edition of PBN, staff writer Eli Sherman examines just how vulnerable Rhode Island is today to flooding and storm damage, and how much more along those lines the state can expect as time goes on.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects that by about 2080, sea level in Rhode Island will have risen by 7 feet from today. The R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council, using those projections, says that if a 100-year storm surge were to hit Newport at that point, more than half of the city’s commercial properties would be damaged. In Warwick, nearly 20 percent of all residential properties would be damaged. And that does not include what might happen if hurricane-force winds hit Rhode Island, both on the coast and away from the water.
The bad news – and really there isn’t any good news – is that major storms are likely to happen more often as the 21st century progresses. For instance, 2017’s Hurricane Harvey was the third 500-year flood in Houston in the last three years.
Subsequent parts of the series will examine what is being done today to make the Ocean State more resilient to the potential effects of major storms. It will be required reading for any business and homeowner in Rhode Island.