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JUNE 8 - JUNE 15, 2024


Communities across Cape Cod are improving their readiness to weather natural disasters and environmental change. Our ability to withstand and "bounce back" after events such as hurricanes, coastal storms, and flooding is called coastal resilience.

Preserving dunes is a primary defense against flooding.
A waterfront home using natural coir to hold the dune.
Flood waters from a storm prevent passage along a Cape Cod road.
Preserving healthy wetlands is critical to coastal resilience.
Erosion at a beach on Cape Cod Bay.
Wetlands are a natural buffer against sea level rise.
Storm surge during a Nor'easter in 2024.

We're grateful to our media sponsor WCAI, the Cape & Islands NPR station for their support in planning and promoting Cape Cod Coastal Resilience Week!

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Have questions about Cape Cod Coastal Resilience Week?


Dispelling Common Myths about Coastal Resiliency & Preparedness

Myth 1: "I survived Hurricane Bob and Superstorm Sandy, so I am sufficiently prepared."

When another massive natural disaster occurs, the resulting damage could be much greater than the damage seen with Hurricanes Bob and Sandy. Bob, which was only a category 2 hurricane, drove a surge of 10 to 15 feet into Buzzards Bay and caused over $680 million in damage in Massachusetts. A fast-moving category 3 hurricane could produce a surge of 20 to 25 feet into Buzzards Bay. While Sandy caused tremendous damage in many Mid-Atlantic states, Sandy was only a Tropical Storm when it impacted Massachusetts—that is, coastal flood levels were less than 100-year levels, and wind speeds were well below coastal building code design-level wind speeds. In all reality, we have been lucky in the past. Weather patterns are changing with climate change, making strong, damaging storms more likely in Massachusetts.

Myth 2: "If a disaster occurs, it won't be that bad."

When a coastal storm or flood event occurs, the damage can be devastating. In 1991, Hurricane Bob was responsible for six deaths and caused over $1.5 billion in damage, with most of that monetary loss occurring in Massachusetts.

Myth 3: "My house isn't waterfront, so I'm safe."

In fact, the vast majority of damage or destruction during recent tropical systems was caused by inland flooding associated with extreme rainfall (e.g., Irene in 2011). Additionally, hurricane force winds can extend over 100 miles from the center of the storm, which can cause widespread damage in all of Massachusetts, not just the coastal counties. Therefore, all homeowners should prepare—not just those who live along the coast.

Myth 4: "We had a 100-year storm recently, so we won't see another storm that big for another 100 years."

The term 100-year storm can easily be misinterpreted to mean it only happens once every 100 years. However, the term actually refers to the probability of a storm of that intensity occurring. Statistically, it means each year there is a one percent (or 1-in-100) chance of that storm occurring. So while these events have a lower statistical likelihood of happening than your average storm, they can and do happen even within a few years of each other.

Myth 5: "Even if I prepare for a storm, my home won't be storm proof."

While there is no guarantee that protective measures will eliminate all risk of damage, taking steps to protect your home will significantly reduce risk. It's similar to the idea of wearing a seat belt in your car: Even though someone may wear a seat belt, shoulder belt, and have an airbag, there is no guarantee that person won’t be injured in a major auto accident. Yet most people recognize the importance of these safety devices in reducing risk, and use them.

Myth 6: "If my home or property is damaged by a natural hazard event, government programs will provide assistance."

After major disasters, many homeowners find that the government is highly unlikely to repair their uninsured damaged houses or even provide adequate compensation for property damage. Government compensation evaluations are conducted after a disaster strikes and are based on the amount of damage that occurs on a county-wide basis. It is up to you to plan properly, strengthen your house, and have the appropriate financial protections in place such as insurance. After a natural disaster occurs, the government may also be overwhelmed by the number of people in need and help may not arrive quickly.

Myth 7: "If a natural disaster occurs, there's nothing I can do."

Fortunately, there are many small steps you can take to significantly reduce the risks to life and property. While it is not possible to eliminate all risk or damage, taking steps to plan and prepare can make a major difference to your family’s safety and determine whether your house survives and sustains minor or no damage. The Massachusetts Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Coastal Hazards covers two major parts for preparation: protecting yourself and your family, and protecting your property.

Myth 8: "Strengthening my house is too expensive and not worth the effort."

There are several relatively inexpensive ways to strengthen your house. Hurricane clips or window coverings can range from a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. This alone offers significant protection. For minimal costs, the roof structure for many houses can be strengthened with bracing. Strengthening your roof can be more expensive if done by itself. However, if it is done when you replace your roof at the end of its normal life, the incremental cost is reasonable. Foundation upgrades can be expensive, but considering your house is probably your major investment, it could be worth the immediate cost (and there may be federal assistance grants available to help with the cost). Savings on insurance can also offset the investment.

WHOI scientist Sarah Das, left, and graduate student Rilee Thomas at the Town Neck Beach CoastSnap station in Sandwich, MA.
WHOI scientist Sarah Das, left, and graduate student Rilee Thomas next to a "citizen science" coastal monitoring station CoastSnap on Cape Cod.

Resilience Is Part of Our Local Identity

New Englanders and especially Cape Codders have a long history with coastal resilience. We know the sands are always shifting and have seen the impacts of Nor’easters, which is why coastal resilience efforts make sense to us. Preserving and protecting the coastal environment also contributes to the cultural heritage of our area.

Success Stories

  • Share your success stories of communities that have effectively implemented resilience measures. How has proactive planning reduced your risks and enhanced the overall quality of life for you and others?  Email us at

Catch WHOI Sea Grant Coastal Resilience Specialist Shelly McComb's conversation about Cape Cod Coastal Resilience Week with Stephanie Viva on Lemonadio. (Starts at 0:30)

Town of Orleans' podcast "Behind the Scenes" host Mia Baumgarten welcomes Shelly McComb, Coastal Resilience Specialist with Cape Cod Cooperative Extension & WHOI Sea Grant and Katie Castagno, Ph.D., Director with the Center for Coastal Studies to talk about Cape Cod Coastal Resilience Week 2024.

This 30-minute documentary by Jan Crocker and Tim Wood that tells the story of how climate change fueled erosion transformed the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge at Morris Island and threatens the greater Cape Cod Coastal region.

Coastal Resilience Week Advisory Board

Sarah Das, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Heather McElroy, Cape Cod Commission
Steve McKenna, MA Office of Coastal Zone Management
Chris Piecuch, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Chip Reilly, Barnstable County
Mindy Todd, WCAI - Cape & Islands Radio
Kristen Weir, Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve