North American Cities and Super Storms

Chapter 2 of Cities of the World describes in detail the North American cities of New York City, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Detroit, Washington D.C., New Orleans, Ottawa, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Please note that the textbook does not include Mexico in its definition of North America (see the map at the beginning of Chapter 2).

In Chapter 2, the author states, “Urban studies have ignored the physical nature of cities; the emphasis has been on social, political, and economic factors rather than the ecological. And yet cities are ecological systems, and these systems impact the social, political, and economic realms of the city.” When we look at North American cities, especially those along the eastern and southern coasts, we see an ecological issue that is ripe for massive destruction. “In 2005, the city of New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina… It was not the ferocious winds of Katrina that damaged the city, but the storm surge that breached the levees in the city.” And then, in October of 2012, came Superstorm Sandy!

A. Go to the Scientific America website at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=natural-hazards-new-york-city-vs-the-sea and read the article: “Natural Hazards: New York City Versus the Sea”. I have copied the article onto the end of this assignment sheet for your convenience.

Then go to YouTube and view “National Geographic Superstorm New York What Really Happened” (44:59 minutes) at:

B. Using the given sources, write a 4 to 6-page paper answering the following questions.

1. Make a list of the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. (5 points)

2. How did Superstorm Sandy become so strong? (4 points)

3. What is “storm surge”? Why was Superstorm Sandy’s storm surge so large (approximately 14 feet)? (4 points) You will have to do additional research to answer this question.

4. Why was there so much damage to Lower Manhattan of New York City? Is this true for other cities along the American eastern and southern coast? (3 points)

5. What can be done to prevent future devastation by large storms along the American eastern and southern coast? In your opinion, will these ideas really work? (3 points)

6. According to John Gilbert, is there a new normal? Explain. (3 points)

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