For the InstructorThese student materials complement the Coastal Processes, Hazards and Society Instructor Materials. If you would like your students to have access to the student materials, we suggest you either point them at the Student Version which omits the framing pages with information designed for faculty (and this box). Or you can download these pages in several formats that you can include in your course website or local Learning Managment System. Learn more about using, modifying, and sharing InTeGrate teaching materials.
Module 11: Tsunami and storm surge policy
Some of the earlier modules in this course demonstrated that among the many natural hazards affecting coastal zones, tsunami and hurricane storm surge are two of the most devastating to human life and property. Today, hundreds of millions of people residing along the world's coastlines, as well as the economies and physical infrastructure supporting them, are vulnerable to tsunami and storm surge. Despite this danger, ever-greater numbers of people are migrating to coastal areas, thereby increasing exposure to these hazards. For example, the population density of the Gulf of Mexico's U.S. coastal counties, all of which are vulnerable to hurricane storm surge, increased by nearly one third from 1990 to 2008. More than one quarter of major roads within the Gulf Coast region have elevations of four feet or less, thus putting them at risk of destruction by storm surge. Beyond the Gulf of Mexico, over half of the United State's economic productivity is located in the coastal zones, and almost all of these areas are vulnerable to tsunami or storm surge. Airports, too, are vulnerable: the U.S. National Climate Assessment reports that 12 of the 47 largest airports in the United States are vulnerable to storm surge hazards. During Superstorm Sandy, all three major airports in New York – LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark – experienced storm surge of up to 14 feet.
Wise polices can reduce vulnerability of residents to coastal hazards. In the case of tsunami policy, the United States has been a world leader for decades, with the nation's public policy initiatives significantly reducing tsunami vulnerability in the United States and across the world. With this background in mind, this module uses the four stages of the emergency management cycle – mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery – to examine tsunami and storm surge impacts and polices. The following section sets the stage by defining and describing the foundational terms policy, natural hazard, disaster, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.
Credit: Weather Underground: Hurricane and Tropical Cyclones: Storm Surge Basics