Lessons From the Flood – Do You Really Need to Rebuild Everything?

Repairing landslide damage along Upper Cold River in Shrewsbuy will not address the long-term vulnerability of this road. Photo by Lori Fisher.

Sometimes increasing society’s resilience to future floods means abandoning things we built in the past. Following Tropical Storm Irene there have been at least 30 flood-prone properties purchased with an additional 67 buyouts planned. Removing these structures from the floodplain gives rivers room to move and protects homeowners from flood damage. We need to make the same considerations for our roads and public buildings. The latest installment of LCC’s Lessons from the Flood, asks us all to consider whether we really need to rebuild everything. We look at roads in Bristol and Shrewsbury and a bridge in New Haven where society can save money and prevent future flood damage by strategically disinvesting in structures that are vulnerable. We need not commit to repeating the mistakes of the past.