Is Boston Ready for the next major storm and what is it doing to prepare for the rising tides. A town almost entirely built through human design in the middle of a bay is subjected to the ebb and flow of the tide more than most and its lack of elevation adds to the problem. To better understand this problem let us take a quick look at the history of Boston and how it came to be.
Tidal flats were filled in to create shipping ports. They were filled in with rocks, dirt and yes trash. A lot of the quaint neighborhoods such as the Back Bay, East Boston, Charlestown and the South End were built on landfills. I know shocking right. Needless to say, they are low-lying areas susceptible to the rising seas. Even the airport used to be a collection of 5 islands filled in to serve a purpose.
Ok so that is a very quick back story so what dangers does this possess. To understand this, you need to know how high everything is. At best Boston is considered 14 meters above sea level, with many spots being directly at sea level. In recent years and by recent we mean the last century sea levels have risen 28 centimeters. There is talk about as much as a 3 meter rise due to greenhouse gases by 2100. This puts Boston in line to be one of the top 10 most vulnerable cities in the world.
You just did the math the city is still not underwater. Well let us take a look at high tides, storm surges and damage than can result from it. Storm surge tides are on the rise just ask an adjacent town like Winthrop or Dorchester about high tides during storms. These homes have been damaged in recent years resulting catastrophic damage.
Homes built at sea level, condos below grade even by as little as a half an inch are being denied coverage or being subjected to very limited coverage. So limited in fact it is only the drywall being covered for demolition and replacement. Often we are seeing that none of the contents, electrical systems, plumbing, insulation, flooring is being covered. This is very stressful for all involved. Especially since the corrosive nature of salt water is that more damaging than traditional water damage.
Understanding your policies and exclusionary clauses as flood plains are redrawn is essential FEMA has a flood map page where you can input your address and get a quick assessment of your homes risk. This will allow you to prepare for upcoming storms and possibly reassess your coverage for insurance.
NOAA estimates from May of 2019 to April of this year 2020 there will be 12-19 flooding events. How many have you already seen? Boston is working hard to prepare for these events. They have developed a Climate preparedness plan. There is a website you can follow and stay up to date on the latest meetings, proposals and individual neighborhoods plans for their specific needs. This website is full of reports, strategies, design and technology initiatives.
The city needs your help be it actively attending meetings to keep pulse with the changes and provide input on the impact these plans could have on your daily living. There are surveys for various community projects that will provide developers with real world feedback on things like commuting challenges projects may pose. We all know you want to be heard about the increased commuting problems.
We at SERVPRO of East Boston, Chelsea, & Revere see firsthand effects from these flooding events. We see the devastation that they cause, and we are seeing increasing restrictions on insurance coverage from these events. We have also seen Facebook pages dedicated to community discussions as well as grassroots efforts to find solutions to pollution. Keeping pollution out of the streets and in the trash barrels where they belong will ensure sewer drains maintain the flow of water. Less clogging means less flooding. We can all make a difference in how climate change affects our communities.