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Flood Drainage

Coastal Land Use

Urban Planning

Coastal Protection

Early Prevention

Tsunami-Proof Buildings  


Coastal Protection

In populated areas, the best idea seems to be the use of seawalls in front of ports and cities. In Patong Beach in Thailand during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the seawall in front of the beach dissipated much of the energy of the tsunami and prevented the city from being destroyed. Even though the flooding because of a rise in sea level wasn’t stopped by the seawall, the force of the tsunami was, and very few casualties resulted in the area. The only areas of the city that were seriously damaged were the areas directly behind openings in the seawall designed to allow access to the beach 6. The conclusions from this report indicate that it is best to have walls offshore, with continuous protection and no holes. One design for a wall that could be implemented in ports and coastal cities is the design used in Providence, RI for the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier. This wall has three openings for ships to pass that can be closed with little warning for the protection of the harbor. Fox Point has protected the city of Providence from the floods that used to ensue destruction every time a hurricane struck, but since the barrier was built, the problem has been alleviated 21. A wall that both allows the free flow of marine traffic into and out of the port and protects the city from floods and tsunamis serves as a good balance between the necessity for protection and the need for accessibility. While the walls do not need to be taller than the tsunami to be effective, the taller a wall is, the larger the column of water stopped will be. Seawalls do not, however, completely protect a city 11 and should be used in conjunction with other methods of protection, especially trees on the coastline and dikes in rivers.

One of the most effective methods of protection from a tsunami is trees. Some villages in India, for example, had minimal casualties in the 2004 tsunami because they had planted trees along the coastline. The village of Naluvedapathy, for example, was protected by about a kilometer of trees and suffered no direct damage from the tsunami 17. Even though this would be too many trees for many areas of the coastline, a moderate thickness of trees, especially those with deep roots and dense coverage, can protect effectively against tsunamis. Mangroves, it appears, are especially good at protecting areas from tsunamis 22, so a beach with mangroves on the shore and rows of trees behind it would be well-suited to withstand a tsunami. Our plan is to plant and help sustain mangroves along empty coastlines where there is little tourism. In areas where there is tourism, the plan is to encourage the planting of low trees in a band that extends virtually uninterrupted throughout the entire shore. While these trees do not protect as effectively as mangroves, planting these would be a compromise between having accessible beaches for tourists and having protected coasts. This band of trees would have a positive effect on tourism too, for it adds to the natural beauty of the areas and provides shade. Another mechanism for preventing a tsunami from exerting its full force on the coast is to encourage the growth of coral reefs directly offshore from coasts in a way that they form an undersea wall of coral. While this is not completely effective, it has been shown to reduce the impact force of the tsunami 22. While this would only be applicable to certain parts of Peru where the water is warm enough, it would make a great method of protection for Micronesia, as well as an extra attraction for tourists.

(Numbers correspond to the order in which the references are presented in <>)

Summary of Design Plan

Coastal Cities and Ports:
-Trees along coastline

Non-urban areas and Tourist beaches
-Development of coral reef
-Planting of extensive mangrove forests
-Trees along coastline

Page by Rodrigo Zeledon

| MIT Mission 2009 Tsunami team 2 |