It’s time for Northeast to prep for floods like those that hit this winter. Climate change is why.

Following consecutive storms that battered the Northeast in January, properties owned by Haim Levy in coastal Hampton, New Hampshire, faced extensive damage, prompting tenant evacuations and incurring substantial costs. Scientists specializing in climate change, winter storms, and rising sea levels argue that such incidents are becoming more common, signaling the need for proactive measures.

Climate change predictions include an increase in hurricanes in the Northeast due to warming waters. Globally, rising sea levels pose risks to millions, as stated by the United Nations. Erosion caused by changing conditions is a global concern. Recent storms in January wreaked havoc on coastal areas, emphasizing the urgency for preparation.

The Northeast is particularly vulnerable due to anticipated sea level rise. Coastal scientist Hannah Baranes notes that Maine has already experienced a 7.5-inch rise since 1910 and is projected to manage a 4-foot rise by 2100. The severity of January’s storms, causing floods and structural damage, exemplifies the need to make difficult decisions about rebuilding in the face of rising seas.

Coastal communities in several states are still grappling with the aftermath of the storms, with President Joe Biden issuing a federal disaster declaration for communities affected in December. Maine, dependent on its working waterfront, witnessed unprecedented damage to docks, buildings, and wharfs. While waterfront businesses pledge to rebuild, Maine Governor Janet Mills emphasizes the broader concept of resilience, urging plans that go beyond physical infrastructure repair.

Even inland communities, such as Vermont, face flooding risks. Vermont is working on statewide floodplain standards to prepare for future weather events. The changing climate requires strategic planning, such as elevating structures and moving landward, as suggested by coastal resource management councils.

However, the challenges extend beyond infrastructure repair. In North Wildwood, New Jersey, legal battles ensue over emergency repairs to protective sand dunes, showcasing the complexities of coastal management. Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council advocates elevating structures and moving landward. The heavily damaged house in Narragansett, Rhode Island, serves as a stark reminder of the encroaching ocean and prompts discussions about retreat as a viable option in the face of climate change.

The storms in January underscore the need for a comprehensive approach to address climate change impacts, with a focus on resilient planning, infrastructure upgrades, and, in some cases, strategic retreat to higher ground.