In the past couple of decades there have been numerous natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and more recently Hurricane Sandy that have hit the coasts of America leaving businesses and residences. Today, many Americans are still recovering from these affects as they prepare for future ones. In the article entitled, "Costal Development, is over-building putting costal regions at risk?" by Jennifer Weeks, Weeks describes federal groups and laws that have been put into place in order to improve the responses to these disasters. However, an analysis of the article reveals that Weeks believes the actions taken are not great enough, therefore there must be more effort from the government to decrease the amount of costal developments thus, positively affecting residences and businesses. Weeks does this very efficiently, and persuades the reader to believe more actions must be taken to better prepare for future disasters.
Weeks begins her article by arguing that the Federal Highway Administration does not have any requirements of flood assessment risks that need to be administered before rebuilding a highway (Weeks, p.1). In order to make a positive change, one change that could be enacted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is to consider possible sea level rises in flood maps (Weeks, p. 1). Currently, "sea-level rise is not factored into FEMA's mapping practices, so it likely is underestimating the geographic breadth and severity of flood risks," expressed Weeks. On the other hand, Army Corps of engineers requires that every project near coastal areas must consider potential sea level changes (Weeks, p. 1).
As a result, the FEMA may be taking steps towards positively influencing construction of highways near the coast, but the current state the FEMA works under is unacceptable. Weeks even sites from Stiles of Wetlands Watch, "if FEMA started using sea-level rise projections like the Corps, we would see changes." This statement strengthens her argument that the government is in fact making steps towards better preparing for natural disaster however not enough to where it is making a big difference. By comparing the proposal made from the FEMA to what the Army Corps Engineers are doing, the reader gets a better feel of Weeks point of view.
Not only did the FEMA fail to supply requirements for flood assessments of high flood risk areas, but they also employed people who lacked experience. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, destroying miles of land, trapping over 70,000 people who did not evacuate (Weeks, p.2). There was a lack of food, water, medicine and even transportation for residents. In 2006, a new administrator was appointed and under his control the FEMA better responded to disasters, including Hurricane Sandy (Weeks, p. 2). Again the FEMA had made valid steps towards improving the services it provided to costal cities however, the effort is still not enough. As Fugate, the new administer stated, "We cannot afford to continue to respond to disasters and deal with the consequences under the current model." Again, this shows gradual improvements the government is trying to make however, the last statement implies that the system is not perfect and needs further improvement. This idea of comparing how the FEMA used to function, to how the FEMA works today, displays a lack of clear goals and emphasizes that creating change is even more important to costal areas than it was before.
Finally, Weeks shows that more action needs to be taken toward reducing costal development through her explanation of sea levels rising. In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published that sea levels would rise 7 to 24 inches by 2100. But based on a peer-reviewed article published by a German research team, they estimated that sea levels would rise between 20 inches and three feet by 2100 (Weeks, p. 3). Other research shows that sea levels were rising 2 to 3.7 millimeters (0.08 to 0.15 inches) per year. These figure in are quite frightening because " Cities in this zone would be highly vulnerable to flooding during storms," explained the authors. Therefore, businesses and residents living along the cost will be directly affected due to its over development on those areas (Weeks, p. 3). Weeks closing paragraphs reveal the ultimatum should the government and its people decide not to make further plans in decreasing the development near costal areas. When the waters rise, many homes and businesses will be submerged in these waters overtime. Weeks ends with this in order to evoke a sense of responsibility and urgencies in the reader, convincing them that indeed, more actions must be made now.
Living in Hawaii makes this article much more relevant to us than you would think. In every direction is a coast line thus, if we ourselves continue to expand outward, it is only a matter of time before disaster hits to strike it all down. Weeks perfectly used examples throughout her article to create a call to action, a call to make a difference even for people like us in Hawaii.
Weeks, Jennifer. "Coastal Development." CQ Researcher 22 Feb. 2013: 181-204. Web. 20 Sept. 2013.
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