One year ago Tuesday, Hurricane Sandy, perhaps the largest Atlantic storm ever, began its path of destruction in New York City. It ultimately killed almost 300 people across seven countries. In the United States alone, the fierce storm left an estimated $70 billion in damage in its wake, the second-costliest storm in U.S. history.
Substantial money and effort has now gone into rebuilding the areas most devastated by the storm. The truth is, however, that many other areas of the world, including in the United States, are just as vulnerable to intense flooding.
Existing flood protection in most countries is simply not fit for this purpose. Even in our native Netherlands, a world leader in flood management, roughly one-third of the defenses is sub-standard.
The combined impact of climate change, subsidence, urban growth and socio-economic change mean that average global flood losses could rise dramatically if no adequate risk reduction measures are implemented.
A new global agenda to enhance flood protection infrastructure is badly needed. This must be started now.