Emergency planners in coastal cities such as Shanghai and New York City are under increasing pressure to protect elderly citizens from the devastating impact of coastal flooding caused by storms and cyclones. A recent study has revealed that both cities are highly exposed to storm-induced flooding, highlighting the urgent need for efficient evacuation plans to ensure the safety of vulnerable populations.

It is evident from the study that Shanghai and New York City have two distinct systems of emergency operation, leading to significant differences in evacuating elderly people to safety. While New York City has a more efficient evacuation process with travel times of less than 20 minutes for vulnerable neighborhoods, Shanghai faces challenges where each trip of flood evacuations can take up to 3-4 hours due to underserved neighborhoods lacking shelters.

Experts recommend that emergency planners in flood-threatened cities around the globe, such as Mumbai, Bangkok, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, Miami, and Tokyo, adopt a blueprint for efficient evacuation based on the findings from Shanghai and New York City. The key recommendation is to build more neighborhood shelters to reduce the time taken to evacuate vulnerable populations to safety in the event of a storm surge.

As coastal societies face rising populations and increased sensitivity to disastrous flood events, the need for effective emergency management processes becomes crucial. Both China and the United States have begun to strengthen their emergency management by improving organization and planning of evacuation, especially in areas where vulnerable populations are at higher risk.

It is essential for emergency planners to consider the effects of climate change, coastward urbanization, and adaptation measures when developing evacuation plans. Recurring coastal flooding caused by storm surge is becoming more frequent and devastating globally, particularly in low-lying coastal areas. The increasing risk of coastal flooding underscores the importance of proactive planning and preparedness measures to protect vulnerable populations, including the elderly.

With the projected increase in population exposure to coastal flooding and economic damage in major coastal cities, it is imperative that further research on evacuation strategies takes into account the changing nature of coastal flood risk. By identifying and addressing the challenges faced by elderly residents in coastal cities, emergency planners can develop more effective and efficient evacuation plans to mitigate the impact of storm-induced flooding.


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