The damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy on New York has put the fear of climate change in the hearts of other coastal communities in the US. Having narrowly averted the worst of Sandy, Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino knows that his city may not be so lucky again. On Tuesday, the mayor announced a new plans to make sure that Boston will be better prepared for future hurricanes and other natural disasters.
The mayor’s announcement comes on the heels of a new report released by the Boston Harbor Association revealing the vulnerabilities of the Boston coastline. The report brings the global effects of climate change down to the city and neighborhood level, illustrating the importance of being prepared. The acceleration of warming temperatures has led to an increase in sea levels and coastal flooding due to melting glaciers and the thermal expansion of the ocean. The report gives suggestions on how property owners and neighborhood residents can be prepared to deal with the issue of rising sea levels.
Though no policy changes have been implemented yet, Menino is outlining ways that local agencies can be prepared for future climate change emergencies. He intends for the Boston Redevelopment Authority to survey the preparedness of buildings and other structures that are likely to face climate change problems within six months. He also plans to have the Boston Conservation Commission draft a wetlands ordinance developing new flood plain maps that incorporate changes in sea level and storm intensity and frequency. Plus, the Inspectional Services Department and Boston Public Health Commission have been asked to develop guidelines for enforcement of flood-proofing standards for buildings in designated flood hazard areas. And the Office of Emergency Management is planning to lead a review of emergency operation procedures for storms and flooding.