If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, then you’ve heard about the Live Chat we are holding from 2:30 – 3:30 P.M. today on Twitter with Senator Richard Blumenthal to discuss how Hurricane Sandy impacted our coastline and Long Island Sound.
We will be convening a panel of scientists and environmental organizations who will also be answering your questions. Panelists include:
- Brian Thompson, director of the Office of Long Island Sound Programs, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
- Sandy Breslin, director of government relations for Audubon Connecticut
- Patrick Comins, director of bird conservation for Audubon Connecticut
- Milan Bull, senior director of science and conservation for Connecticut Audubon Society
- Tom Andersen, author of This Fine Piece of Water
- Sylvain De Guise, director of Connecticut Sea Grant
- Syma Ebbin, research coordinator for Connecticut Sea Grant
- Tessa Getchis, aquaculture extension specialist for Connecticut Sea Grant
- Adam Whelchel, director of science for The Nature Conservancy’s Connecticut Chapter
Want to participate but don’t use Twitter? Don’t fret- we will take some questions from our Facebook fans as well- just post them on our wall.To participate, log on to Twitter on Friday at 2:30P.M. and tweet your questions to @SavetheSound
using the hashtag #LISSandy
. We will respond to the questions as they come in.
We will also be posting updates throughout the conversation on our blog, so tune in here to keep up with the dialogue as well.
Our live chat is now over. Thanks for your questions, everyone!
You can read highlights from the conversation below, or see a full log of the chat here.
Q: What plans are being considered for coastal erosion, mitigation and or restoration?
Q2: Should we be trying to restore the coastline to its pre-storm condition?
A: Two related questions. It’s tricky. These are natural systems, and when possible it’s best to let them do what they want to do. The difficulty is that a lot of dunes, marshes, and barrier islands don’t have room to retreat and rebuild as they normally would because of shoreline development. Adding sand from dredging projects to replace sand on beaches and dunes is underway in some areas; we must do this carefully. We shouldn’t try to replant grasses on dunes until winter storms have deposited sand naturally.
Q: In general, do we know how natural habitats on the Sound shore fared during the storm? Was there much destruction?
A: Waves and storm surge dramatically affected barrier beaches and dunes–a lot of material got moved around. At Sunken Meadow State Park on Long Island, a dam was washed out (which is positive–it was slated for removal). Griswold Point is now an island. Penfield Reef was largely washed away. Great Island at the mouth of the CT River is now exposed to tides, which could cause erosion at this globally important marsh. Rocky Neck State Park was heavily impacted; the dunes there helped protect the railroad from erosion. The barrier beaches did exactly what they’re supposed to do–they retreated. The problem is that because our shoreline is so developed, there’s not a lot of room for dunes and marshes to retreat to. We need to plan zoning and other methods that will let the shoreline naturally retreat upland.
Q: Is there any chance of passsing real federal #climate
policy in next 4 yrs to prevent future disasters?
A: Extreme weather events like Sandy call attention to the need for serious climate policy–creating the political will is hugely important. It’s essential, as well, that states take the initiative to pass strong climate and energy policies–Connecticut can make itself a national leader by moving ahead.
Q from Facebook: Will there be resources available evaluate the consequences of the storm and determine the most effective short- and long-term actions to restore coastal resources at risk?
A: There is an effort underway by the National Fish and Wildlife Federation to do a detailed and rapid assessment of Hurricane Sandy’s impact on wildlife habitat throughout the Northeast (more info
). The Nature Conservancy has been working on a Coastal Resiliancy tool
, and information about Sandy’s impacts will be used to provide an illustration of the sorts of effects a strong storm can have on our region. The regional SeaGrant offices are in communication with FEMA about damages and needs.
Q: How will the beach erosion affect coastal bird nesting?
A: Birds will move to new areas in some cases, and we’ll have to identify and protect those areas. There will be room for both birds and humans to use the beaches, but we’ll have to identify those new nesting areas before people arrive to enjoy the beaches in the spring. It will be important to replant dunes, but again, might need to wait until after the nesting season is over so as not to disturb the birds. The effects on tree-nesting raptors will likely be less than last year’s storms–some trees were downed, but there was not as much damage as there was with Irene and the blizzard.
Q: How prepared are CT’s shoreline communities for future storms?
A: Not as prepared as they need to be, yet. There are outreach and pilot planning programs to improve resiliancy. Municipalities need to do “pre-storm planning”–we need to get started as early as possible. We’re seeing some lessons that we learned from Irene that are paying off this time–utilities were up faster, and shoreline houses that were elevated on stilts after Irene suffered much less damage this time. In addition, homes that had intact dunes with natural vegetation saw less damage. The dunes were still affected, but not totally washed into the homes.
Q: How much of Sandy’s damage can be blamed on climate change?
A: It’s difficult to blame any one storm on climate change, but this is the sort of thing we would expect to be seeing more frequently with a warming climate and warming oceans. Certainly, higher sea levels mean the damage from storm surge is much greater. Regardless of the cause, we need to commit to both mitigation to slow climate change, and adaptation that will allow our shoreline communities to suffer less damage and recover more quickly.
Question from Facebook: “any news on sewage spills in gwch, stmfd, nwlk, etc?”
Answer: All the CT sewage plants are now up and running. In the days during and immediately after the storm, millions of gallons of untreated and partially treated sewage spilled into the Sound and rivers. Some of this was due to flooding, and some to loss of power to the treatment plants. Read more