New monthly series to explore community storm preparation

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The first in a new monthly series of research seminars took place Tuesday that aim to examine what it means to be a resilient community living in a coastal zone.

A scientist, a writer and a coastal planner all teamed up to talk hurricanes, specifically Hurricane Florence, Dorian and future storms as well.

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Tuesday’s panel included Dylan McNamara, the chair of UNCW’s Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, David Gessner, the chair of Creative Writing at UNCW, and Tancred Miller, North Carolina’s Coastal Policy Manager for the Division of Coastal Management.

“We’ve seen examples in recent storms where some houses are completely destroyed, and other houses right next door are fully intact,” Miller said. “And a lot of times the difference is the way those houses were built.”

Miller says the state is constantly updating building codes, raising the standards for new homes built in risk areas. He is working on a Climate Change Interagency Council created by Gov. Roy Cooper.



“We have a report coming out March 1st of next year, it’s going to be a statewide climate adaptation plan,” Miller said.

McNamara, the oceanographer, says environmental changes are happening slowly, and if another storm hits us anytime soon it will have a similar result. But as years go by and ocean levels rise, places like Wrightsville beach could be underwater.

“It’s hard to pinpoint exactly, but there’s going to be significant problems between 50 and 150 years from now,” McNamara said.

McNamara says it’s important to include artists like David Gessner in the discussion, because they help convey information in the public in a different way.

“One of my favorite writers is A.R. Ammons, a poet who’s actually a local from Whiteville who became one of the most famous poets in the 20th century,” Gessner said. “And he believed that to live on the coast meant to live with uncertainty.”

If you’re interested in learning more, this was the first of eight monthly seminars series to highlight ongoing research, scholarship, and creative activity related to hurricanes and coastal community resiliency at UNCW’s Center for Marine Science.