Lesley Ewing, Costas Synolakis


Coastal communities rely upon a range of protection elements, both constructed and natural, for resilience. Although extreme events might be assumed to be quite rare, given the level of protection that is available for many communities, extreme events can happen every few decades. Resilience of protection will diminish over time unless the elements are maintained, or in the case of natural systems, given the resources to expand and grow. As a result, communities with well-balanced and diverse resilience might find that resilience decreases with time. Extreme events or the consideration of extreme events through contingency planning and scenario development, provide valuable insights into the weaknesses in any resilience effort and help identify steps to enhance resilience for a broad spectrum of future conditions. This paper provides a definition for resilience that covers the pre-disaster conditions, disaster response and post-disaster recovery. It examines resilience of various protection management approaches for a hypothetical community. While a do-nothing approach can be the most cost-effective approach if there is no risk that an extreme event might happen, for situations where extreme events are possible, the resilience of a community can be enhanced by a modified status quo approach in which elements are maintained regularly and rebuilt to the current design standards when they experience significant damage.


resilience; extreme events; coastal communities; contingency planning; disaster responses; adaptation; shoreline protection

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