Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Predictions of a “very active” 2006 hurricane season

Editors Note: The following was released by the University of Texas yesterday, hopefully our politicians are paying attention:

AUSTIN, Texas—Predictions released today (May 22) by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimate the 2006 hurricane season will be a “very active one,” making a set of maps recently released by the National Consortium to Map Gulf Coast Ecological Constraints even more significant.

The consortium led by the Regional Plan Association and directed by The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture previously released a set of maps which illustrated the continued vulnerability of the Gulf Coast to natural disasters, including numerous areas slated to be rebuilt with billions in public funds. The maps can be found on the America 2050 Web site.

The National Consortium to Map Gulf Coast Ecological Constraints is composed of leading architects and landscape architects, urban planners, environmental and geographic scientists, and other leading professionals in related fields.

Members of the consortium hope the maps, prepared by consultants EDAW, will help planners determine how to rebuild the Gulf Coast and encourage other regions to perform similar analyses so that damage can be limited should disaster strike in the future.

“The Gulf Coast isn’t the only region of the country that’s vulnerable to natural disasters,” said Robert D. Yaro, president of the Regional Planning Commission. “We hope that these maps will start a national discussion about how we protect our coastal areas and invest public funds in a sustainable way.”

The maps illustrate the coastal vulnerability to a variety of environmental risk factors, such as high wind, storm surges, flooding, rise in sea level, loss of wetlands, marshes and barrier islands, demographic vulnerability and growth patterns. They portray an extended coastline and inland area threatened by multiple environmental factors.

“It is our hope that planners and architects involved in the local rebuilding efforts use these maps in their decision-making,” said Frederick (Fritz) Steiner, dean of the School of Architecture. “This information is valuable to state and national policymakers, national foundation decision makers and local elected officials, business people and civic leaders, as well.


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