“New England was one of the hardest hit areas of the country with flooding last year. All 16 counties in Maine were affected,” said Anika James, field associate for Portland’s Environment Maine at a press conference this morning at city hall. “There were only 17 other states in which all of its counties were affected by extreme weather.” At the press conference, James introduced a new report on global warming and unveiled an online map that shows which counties were affected the most by weather disasters between 2006 – 2011. York and Lincoln Counties in Maine were the worst hit by weather related disasters last year. 2011 set records nationally for extreme weather and weather-related disasters.
The Northeast will have to deal with more and more flooding in the future, the higly readable report states repeatedly. “Global warming is likely to increase the risk of weather-related disasters in two ways: first by producing more extreme events that overwhelm our existing systems and second by diminishing the ability of natural or man-made systems to withstand extreme weather events, increasing the amount of damage they cause,” “In the Path of the Storm.” Meanwhile, the city of Portland has been taking steps to mitigate the effects of storm surges in the future said councilor David Marshall, part of the presentation panel. Mayor Michael Brennan, who once worked for consumer advocate Ralph Nader, said the report will be helpful in getting information out to the public it needs to know about how to reduce our carbon footprint. He cited the city’s new wind ordinance, bike paths and mass transportation as efforts in that pursuit.
Not lost on James and Mike Mason, Emergency Services Director, American Red Cross, during budgetary debates, are the escalating costs of recovery from weather-related disasters. Not only is the cost in terms of humans, but it is financially expensive to do so. “The American Red Cross spends well above average on weather-related disaster responses. It is not something to skimp on. We spend what we have to,” said Mason. “If the state is forced to respond to weather-related disasters, that impacts the State’s budget as well. It’s an economic disaster as well,” said James.
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