Adapting to Climate Change on the Coast: Lessons from Louisiana for Federal Policy

RAND Congressional Briefing Series

What can be done to reduce the chances of widespread disaster when the next Superstorm Sandy hits?

Sandy is estimated to have caused upwards of $50 billion in property damage to the mid-Atlantic states, in addition to loss of life and massive disruption to infrastructure systems in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Sandy is only the most recent example of the massive damage and disruption caused by storms to coastal areas, however, and these consequences will grow worse as coastal populations continue to grow and sea levels rise. The increasing risks have caused policymakers to rethink how to plan for the coasts: rather than provide assistance only after the event, how can policymakers invest proactively to become more resilient and reduce the potential negative effects of coastal storms?

Other states and the federal government can learn from Louisiana's post-Katrina planning to better protect coastal populations and restore or rebuild coastal lands. The RAND Corporation assisted Louisiana in developing its 2012 Coastal Master Plan to guide the state's coastal investments and help residents plan for the future. The projects in the plan strike a balance between providing near-term benefits to coastal communities and long-term sustainability to Louisiana's coastal landscape.

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