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HURRICANE HARVEY and HURRICANE IRMA:Climate Science, Recovery & Resilience
Expert panel and discussion sponsored by the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation
Thursday, September 21, 12-1 PM
UConn Avery Point Campus
Marine Sciences Building
Access Code: 649 191 751
Listen toll free via computer here
Tweet us questions @UConnCIRCA
FREE and Open to the Public. Students, Faculty and Staff are encouraged to attend.
The news has been full of the devastating impacts that Harvey and Irma have had on the states of Texas and Florida and neighboring islands and questions are being raised about the role of climate change in hurricanes and what we should do when hurricanes hit. In this panel and discussion faculty from Marine Sciences and Environmental Engineering will explain the basics of hurricane science and what we do and do not know about the relationship between these events and climate change. The Connecticut Insurance Department joins the panel to discuss Connecticut's recovery after Irene and Sandy and the latest approaches in our state and across the nation to be better prepared and resilient to the impacts of hurricanes.
- Frank Bohlen, Professor of Marine Science, emeritus and CIRCA Affiliated Faculty Member
- Jim O'Donnell, Professor of Marine Sciences and CIRCA Executive Director
- Manos Anagnostou, Professor of Environmental Engineering and CIRCA Applied Research Director
- George Bradner, Director, Property & Casualty Division, Connecticut Insurance Department
- Moderated by Rebecca French, Director of Community Engagement, CIRCA
If you have any questions about this event, please contact Rebecca French at
If you need accommodations for this event, please contact Lauren Yaworsky at
Back to Announcements
October 19, 2017- CIRCA Updated Projections of Sea Level Rise for Connecticut
Thursday, October 19, 2017
In Person Attendance:
Marine Sciences Building Room 103
University of Connecticut
Avery Point Campus
1080 Shennecossett Rd
Groton, CT 06340
Marine Sciences Professor and CIRCA Executive Director, James O'Donnell will present the findings of a study to update the NOAA 2012 CPO-1 sea level rise projections for the state of Connecticut. This study was mandated as part of the creation of CIRCA and called for in
UConn Law School CEEL Professor-in-Residence Joe MacDougald and CEEL legal fellow, Bill Rath will also present their CIRCA study on legal and policy implications of sea level rise for Connecticut and their survey of state sea level rise policies.
Who Should Attend:
This meeting is free and open to the public. Municipal staff and elected leaders concerned about or in the process of planning for sea level rise and coastal resilience are encouraged to attend. Following the presentations, there will be an opportunity for questions from the audience.
Parking on Campus:
Visitor parking on campus is available in pay by phone (PBP) or in metered spots in the areas marked on this
If you need accommodations to attend this event, please contact Lauren Yaworsky at firstname.lastname@example.org 5 days prior to the event.
October 25, 2017 - CT Association of Flood Managers Conference
The Connecticut Association of Flood Managers (CAFM) will convene its fourth Annual Conference and Meeting
in Meriden, Connecticut on
October 25, 2017
. We invite you to share your experiences as municipal and state
officials, industry leaders, consultants, and other interested parties to promote a more resilient Connecticut.
CAFM seeks a broad range of professionals to address the many issues and problems associated with managing
flood risk, making communities more sustainable, and protecting floodplain and fragile natural resources. This c
onference will examine the challenges facing Connecticut, and share experiences and lessons learned as flood
managers and municipal officials.
CIRCA in the News
September 10, 2017- Connecticut's Hurricane Betting Line: Reducing Risks and Bracing For Impacts
Every year, Connecticut has about a one-in-10 chance of getting hit by a hurricane, climate experts say. They add that catastrophic, killer storms like the ones that devastated this state in 1938 and 1955 are far less likely.
But the risk of a Harvey or an Irma charging in Connecticut's direction is always there. And many scientists believe global warming and rising sea levels will make major weather events more intense and more frequent than in the past.
State and local officials have been working in recent years on ways to reduce the potential damage and loss of life such mega-storms might cause. It was a campaign triggered by the heavy impacts of Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy in 2011 and 2012.
The effort to prepare for huge storms must deal with a complex range of issues. Those include federal emergency funding decisions; the high cost of flood insurance; local development patterns and tax revenues; preserving wetlands to absorb the impact of storm surges; how best to protect vulnerable power grids, highways, rail lines and sewage plants; planning for evacuation routes and storm shelters; and the reluctance of homeowners to give up on flood-prone homes.
Despite the difficulties, James O'Donnell believes "the situation has improved dramatically since Sandy." O'Donnell is executive director of the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation, an agency set up after Irene and Sandy to help local and state officials prepare for the risks that lie ahead.
Connecticut's power grid is now "much more robust" than it was five years ago, O'Donnell said, adding that emergency planning at both the state and local levels has also improved.
Back to News Clips
September 8, 2017- What A Shrinking EPA Could Mean For Connecticut
The Trump administration has proposed cutting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency budget by 31 percent. It's also rolled back a number of Obama-era environmental rules. And news outlets are reporting staffing at the agency is expected to drop to its lowest levels since the Reagan era.
WSHU's All Things Considered host, Bill Buchner, spoke with Robert Klee, the commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, to find out how these changes might affect Connecticut.
In Connecticut the Governor and General Assembly and our agency and UConn helped develop the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation. We call it CIRCA.
And it's a joint effort to really supply our municipalities with world class research from UConn that can be applied to their local level and improve the resiliency of communities.
We're an agency, we collect baseline data. We're seeing changes in Long Island Sound, we're seeing sea level rise and the potential here in the Northeast in particular, intense rain events followed by drought. How are we going to manage that? How are we going to adapt to these new normal conditions? So through CIRCA and work we're doing with the Department of Housing and funding from the Sandy event, we're developing a resiliency plan that communities can use.
Local & State News Clips
September 15, 2017- Water Flow Issues Cause Mystic Flooding; Drainage Work Needed
STONINGTON - A partially obstructed culvert under the railroad tracks and overgrowth in drainage ditches have been identified as likely sources of periodic flooding along sections of Washington and Edgemont Streets in Mystic, and fixing the problem will take some time.
"It's actually a landfill and a wetland; it would not be allowed today but our ancestors did it, and when they did it they put in a drainage system that was adequate at the time but it's not working now," said First Selectman Rob Simmons at the Board of Selectmen's meeting Wednesday.
With permission to work on private property, the town has done what it can to clear a culvert and a drainage ditch, known as a swale, beside and behind 36 Washington St., but a portion of the drainage system exists on Amtrak property, which would require a permit through Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Simmons sent a letter Monday to Earl Watson III, senior manager of Amtrak engineering, explaining the problem and asking for permission to investigate the condition of the culvert and excavate the tidal marsh.
Before the town can apply for a permit, it must define the framework and scope of the project and retain professional services do survey and mapping work, said Town Engineer Scot Deledda, who attended the meeting.
"There are multiple property owners involved and a permit process through DEEP, so it's going to take a little bit of time."
The drainage system is designed so that stormwater travels into catch basins on Washington Street, goes through a culvert at the side of the house at 36 Washington and discharges into a wetland swale. From the swale, the water flows to the Amtrak culvert beneath the tracks, and once through the culvert the water travels through a tidal marsh swale, another culvert under Edgemont Street next to the town sewer treatment plant, and discharges into Fishers Island Sound.
Because of the tidal marshes, the water doesn't always flow in the correct direction, Deledda said.
"Water will turn back through the culvert, reverse direction, submerge the [tidal marsh] area and then flow back out of the culvert," he said. The tidal swale, which has become silted in and filled with vegetation over the years, needs to be dredged for the water to flow again, he said.
September 10, 2017- As FCC Faces Storm Problems, Connecticut Switches in New 911
With Texas having struggled to keep communications lines open for residents during Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Irma straining systems in Florida, Connecticut is nearing completion of a "next generation" emergency 911 dispatch service designed to help the state cope with any similar inundation of calls - and allowing people to use text and video calling functions on their mobile phones to connect with dispatchers.
The system is one of multiple steps that utilities, carriers, state agencies and municipalities have taken to harden Connecticut's networks following the 2012 storm Sandy, to include a extended effort to cut back trees and branches from overhead lines; add cell phone transmitters; purchase better radios for police and fire departments; and improve the odds of residents being able to get through to emergency 911 dispatchers.
For both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, the Federal Communications Commission is getting fresh data on the resilience of communications networks after activating a disaster information reporting system for carriers to report the status of their systems, whether cable, wireline telephone, wireless or over the internet. Frontier Communications was among those reporting in Texas the loss of power at central call-switching stations and damage to poles and cables, with the Norwalk-based company also a major service provider in Florida.
In a few Texas counties hit hard by Harvey, nearly a third of cell sites were knocked offline, even as more and more households turn to mobile phones as their primary - and in an increasing number of cases only - communications link. And both storms have highlighted rescuers' monitoring of Twitter for pleas of help as an alternative to flooded 911 call centers.
September 8, 2017- Tree Filters Planned To Treat Stormwater In Downtown Niantic
East Lyme - Plans are underway to install tree filters this fall in the Grand Street area of town, with the goal of improving the environmental quality of the Niantic River and its watershed.
About 20 tree filters will be installed in October in conjunction with the town's repaving project for the Grand Street area, Town Engineer Victor Benni said. The area includes Grand, Smith, Lincoln and Beckwith streets, and N. Washington and York avenues, as well as the eastern section of Hope Street, from approximately the Ring's End section to Pennsylvania Avenue.
"The overall purpose is to provide water quality treatment prior to stormwater entering the Niantic River," Benni said.
The project will be paid for through a $92,500 grant that the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District applied for from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection through the Clean Water Act, said Judy Rondeau, coordinator for the Niantic River watershed with the Eastern Connecticut District.
The town won't spend money on the project, but plans to provide a 40 percent in-kind match, including from part of the paving project that already was planned, improvements the town made to stormwater basins in the area and the design of the tree filters, Benni said.
Benni said the town is designing tree filters with a two-system approach to treat the stormwater. The top portion will feature a soil media in which soils and microbes will break down pollutants and nutrients in the stormwater. A crushed stone layer, underneath the top portion, will provide a storage area for the stormwater and further treat it. After being treated by those two components, the stormwater then will infiltrate into the existing sandy soil below the system.
September 7, 2017- Connecticut Economists Warn Of Hurricane Harvey's Cascading Impact, My Record Journal
Only days after Hurricane Harvey struck Houston and southeastern Texas, economists are estimating the extensive damage to reach as high as $160 billion, topping the $118 billion estimated cost of Hurricane Katrina.
Although those costs will primarily affect the region, there will likely be shared pain throughout the country, economists said.
"There are a lot of what-ifs," said Peter Gioia, an economist with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. "Obviously there are going to be impacts."
A serious disruption to downstream refineries in the greater Houston and Port Arthur areas and in the transportation and distribution of refined products has already shown up at gas pumps throughout the U.S.
According to AAA, the national average price for regular gas jumped nearly 5 cents to $2.45 a gallon on Thursday. And price spikes are even more severe in the southeast - up 17 cents in Georgia for the week and up 20 cents in South Carolina.
Gas futures shot up more than 10 percent Thursday, suggesting that prices will keep climbing.
When gas prices and other refined products become more expensive, it hurts the economy. The cost of plastics and chemical products rises as does the cost of shipping. This can translate to higher costs at the grocery store, or plane tickets or the daily commute.
Gioia believes the increased costs will be pennies and won't last long as more refineries are brought on line.
With tens of thousands of people driven from their home after dangerous flooding, officials estimate more than 40,000 homes in the area could be destroyed. Less than 20 percent have flood insurance, leaving people to rely on FEMA to help replace belongings and rebuild their homes.
National News Clips
September 11, 2017- Damage from Hurricane Irma, Harvey Add to Growing U.S. Costs of Climate Change
First Harvey, then Irma, and the hurricane season isn't over. This is the year that repeated, dire predictions about the fiscal risks of climate change-its increasingly heavy burden on the federal budget-are coming true.
The hurricanes' successive blows may cost taxpayers more than they spent on relief and recovery in any previous year. And that doesn't factor in the price for this year's other disasters-heat waves, droughts, fires and floods-that are among the hallmarks of global warming.
"The magnitude of the damage is getting bigger," said Adam Rose, a research professor with the University of Southern California's Price School of Public Policy and an expert in the economics of natural disasters. "What does it mean for the federal treasury? It means we're likely to see a greater burden on federal and state governments to help people. You can't just leave people who've suffered a disaster. You can't abandon them."
For the past decade, the government's fiscal watchdogs have warned that these costs were bound to increase as the effects of climate change arrive.
September 5, 2017- As Harvey's Floodwaters Recede, How Should Houston Rebuild?
For decades, Houston and its surrounding region has been one of the fastest growing metropolitan centers in the United States, with the population of Harris County rising from 1.75 million in 1970 to more than 4.5 million today. But as population soared, developers in southeast Texas were allowed to build on whatever land they could find, including wide swaths of drained wetlands, with little thought of flood risk.
Tropical Storm Harvey reclaimed much of that land, dumping more than 40 inches of rain in a matter of days and flooding as much as 30 percent of Harris County. In the wake of the storm's catastrophic damage, flood expert
says business-as-usual building practices in the Houston area must change. "We cannot continue to develop just for the bottom line," he says. "We're going to have to develop in smart, resilient ways. Otherwise, Houston is going to be forever known as the flood capital of the United States."
Bedient is a civil and environmental engineer at Rice University where he directs the Severe Storm Prediction, Education, and Evacuation from Disasters Center (SSPEED). He has advised the city of Houston on low-impact development practices that help to mitigate flooding. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talked about southeast Texas' haphazard development boom, how communities should approach rebuilding after Harvey, and how the region needs a network of flood mitigation policies and technologies to protect it from future climate change-fueled storms.
September 1, 2017- After Harvey, The Trump Administration Reconsiders Flood Rules It Just Rolled Back
A couple of weeks ago President Trump scrapped Obama-era rules, intended to reduce the risks posed by flooding, that established new construction standards for roads, housing and other infrastructure projects that receive federal dollars.
Trump derided these restrictions, which were written in response to growing concerns over the impact of climate change, and other federal rules as useless red tape holding back the economy.
"This overregulated permitting process is a massive, selfinflicted wound on our country - it's disgraceful - denying our people much-needed investments in their community," he said in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York during an event to tout his infrastructure policies.
But now, in the wake of the massive flooding and destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey along the Gulf Coast, the Trump administration is considering whether to issue similar requirements to build higher in flood-prone areas as the government prepares to spend billions of dollars in response to the storm.
This potential policy shift underscores the extent to which the reality of this week's storm has collided with Trump officials' push to upend President Barack Obama's policies and represents a striking acknowledgment by an administration skeptical of climate change that the government must factor changing weather into some of its major infrastructure policies.
The Resilience Roundup highlights
CIRCA's presence in the news, provides links to recent local/state/national news articles related to resilience and adaptation, and announces upcoming events and seminars.
The Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation's (CIRCA) mission is to increase the resilience and sustainability of vulnerable communities along Connecticut's coast and inland waterways to the growing impacts of climate change and extreme weather on the natural, built, and human environment. The institute is located at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus and includes faculty from across the university. CIRCA is a partnership between UConn and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP).