US Army Corps of Engineers
North Atlantic Division

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers releases report on coastal storm and flood risk in the North Atlantic region of the United States

Published Jan. 28, 2015
On January 29, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, of 2013 (Public Law 113-2), to assist in the recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. As part of the law, the Congress tasked the Corps to work with a variety of partners to conduct a comprehensive study of the coastal areas affected by Hurricane Sandy to evaluate flood risks and, that as part of the study, to identify areas warranting additional analysis and institutional and other barriers to providing protection. (Chapter 4 of Public Law 113-2).  

The Comprehensive Study is designed to help local communities better understand changing flood risks associated with climate change and to provide tools to help those communities better prepare for future flood risks. It builds on lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy and attempts to bring to bear the latest scientific information available for state, local, and tribal planners.

In addition to State, regional, and local governments, FEMA, NOAA, multiple DOI agencies and HUD were major contributors to this study.

On January 29, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, of 2013 (Public Law 113-2), to assist in the recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. As part of the law, the Congress tasked the Corps to work with a variety of partners to conduct a comprehensive study of the coastal areas affected by Hurricane Sandy to evaluate flood risks and, that as part of the study, to identify areas warranting additional analysis and institutional and other barriers to providing protection. (Chapter 4 of Public Law 113-2). The Comprehensive Study is designed to help local communities better understand changing flood risks associated with climate change and to provide tools to help those communities better prepare for future flood risks. It builds on lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy and attempts to bring to bear the latest scientific information available for state, local, and tribal planners. In addition to State, regional, and local governments, FEMA, NOAA, multiple DOI agencies and HUD were major contributors to this study.

Many communities along the Northeast remain vulnerable to coastal flooding. The Comprehensive Study identified nine high-risk focus areas that warrant additional analysis. They are (in no particular order): 1) Rhode Island Coastline; 2) Connecticut Coastline; 3) New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries; 4) Nassau County Back Bays, New York; 5) New Jersey Back Bays; 6) Delaware Inland Bays and Delaware Bay Coast; 7) the City of Baltimore; 8) the District of Columbia; and the 9) the City of Norfolk.

Many communities along the Northeast remain vulnerable to coastal flooding. The Comprehensive Study identified nine high-risk focus areas that warrant additional analysis. They are (in no particular order): 1) Rhode Island Coastline; 2) Connecticut Coastline; 3) New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries; 4) Nassau County Back Bays, New York; 5) New Jersey Back Bays; 6) Delaware Inland Bays and Delaware Bay Coast; 7) the City of Baltimore; 8) the District of Columbia; and the 9) the City of Norfolk.

The North Atlantic Comprehensive Study was a $19 million study to develop a risk reduction framework for the 31,200 miles of coastline within the North Atlantic Division affected by Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study)

The North Atlantic Comprehensive Study was a $19 million study to develop a risk reduction framework for the 31,200 miles of coastline within the North Atlantic Division affected by Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released to the public a report detailing the results of a two-year study to address coastal storm and flood risk to vulnerable populations, property, ecosystems, and infrastructure in the North Atlantic region of the United States affected by Hurricane Sandy in October, 2012.  Congress authorized this report in January 2013 in the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (Public Law 113-2).

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released to the public a report detailing the results of a two-year study to address coastal storm and flood risk to vulnerable populations, property, ecosystems, and infrastructure in the North Atlantic region of the United States affected by Hurricane Sandy in October, 2012. Congress authorized this report in January 2013 in the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (Public Law 113-2).

The North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study report includes a nine-step Coastal Storm Risk Management Framework that was developed to help all stakeholders, not solely the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, identify their risk of coastal flooding and evaluate the full range of strategies available to reduce those risks. The Framework can be customized to any size coastal watershed, is repeatable at state and local scales, and is transferable to other areas of the country.

The North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study report includes a nine-step Coastal Storm Risk Management Framework that was developed to help all stakeholders, not solely the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, identify their risk of coastal flooding and evaluate the full range of strategies available to reduce those risks. The Framework can be customized to any size coastal watershed, is repeatable at state and local scales, and is transferable to other areas of the country.

Managing coastal storm risk is a shared responsibility by all levels of government and individual property owners. Not all strategies to reduce risks are engineered solutions. Communities should consider adopting a combination of strategies that emphasize wise use of the floodplain and include structural, non-structural, natural and nature-based features, and programmatic measures to manage risk. Improved land use planning, responsible evacuation planning, and strategic retreat are important and cost-effective actions that are proven to reduce coastal flood risks. But no matter what risk reduction strategies are taken, there will always be residual risk.

Managing coastal storm risk is a shared responsibility by all levels of government and individual property owners. Not all strategies to reduce risks are engineered solutions. Communities should consider adopting a combination of strategies that emphasize wise use of the floodplain and include structural, non-structural, natural and nature-based features, and programmatic measures to manage risk. Improved land use planning, responsible evacuation planning, and strategic retreat are important and cost-effective actions that are proven to reduce coastal flood risks. But no matter what risk reduction strategies are taken, there will always be residual risk.

BROOKLYN, NY - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today released to the public a report detailing the results of a two-year study to address coastal storm and flood risk to vulnerable populations, property, ecosystems, and infrastructure in the North Atlantic region of the United States affected by Hurricane Sandy in October, 2012.  Congress authorized this report in January 2013 in the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (Public Law 113-2). 

The report, known as the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS), brought together experts from Federal, state, and local government agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations and academia, to assess the flood risks facing coastal communities and ecosystems and collaboratively develop a coastal storm risk management framework to address increasing  risks, which are driven in part by increased frequency and intensity of storm events and rising sea levels due to a changing climate. 

The NACCS provides tools and information, including a nine-step Coastal Storm Risk Management Framework that can be used by communities, states, tribes, and the Federal government to help identify coastal risk and develop strategies for reducing those risks. 

In addition, the study offers a number of conclusions, including several findings, outcomes, and opportunities, that can help guide future coastal flood risk reduction efforts at all levels of government.  These include: the importance of land use planning, wise use of floodplains, and strategic retreat as cost-effective risk management tactics; the value in considering the full array of risk reduction measures (e.g., nonstructural, structural, natural and nature-based, and programmatic) in project planning and combining measures, where appropriate; the need for greater institutional alignment and financing; better use of pre-storm planning and post-storm monitoring tools; and better education on flood risk and the availability of flood risk management solutions.

“The North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study is an unprecedented effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in collaboration with our partners to develop a coastal plan that considers future sea levels and climate change,” said Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. “The report provides a framework for communities that will arm them for the reality of future extreme weather.”

The report also identifies nine high-risk areas along the Northeast coast that warrant additional analysis. These are (in no particular order): Rhode Island Coastline; Connecticut Coastline; New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries; Nassau County Back Bays, New York; New Jersey Back Bays; Delaware Inland Bays and Delaware Bay Coast; City of Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, DC; and City of Norfolk, Virginia.

"Hurricane Sandy brought to light the reality that coastal storms are intensifying and that sea-level change and climate change will only heighten the vulnerability of coastal communities," said Brig. Gen. Kent D. Savre, commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers North Atlantic Division. "Coastal storm risk management is a shared responsibility, and we believe there should be shared tools used by all decision makers to assess risk and identify solutions. This report provides those tools."

The report and all associated documents and tools are now available at the following webpage: http://www.nad.usace.army.mil/compstudy




Contact
Justin Ward
347-370-4550
justin.m.ward@usace.army.mil
or
Lin Miller
347-370-4772
lin.c.miller@usace.army.mil

Release no. 15-002