This is more like unplanned retreat than coastal relocation. But here is what can happen when science is ignored and development is allowed where it should not be. This article in Grist by Greg Hanscom is about Cedar Island, VA and the fate of the last house standing here.
Everyone thinks the Pilgrims landed at what is now Plymouth, MA. But the truth is the Mayflower found Provincetown, MA first and stayed five weeks before sailing over to the famous rock. Nonetheless, a community was eventually formed in and around Provincetown (hey the cod-fishing was good!) and by the mid nineteenth century homes spread out as far as Long Point, the arcing sandbar that curls back in on itself at the very tip of Cape Cod. But by then they noticed that this sand bar was not the most stable place for things like houses.
Thirty houses in Provincetown today bear this symbol and they are known as the Long Point Floaters. They were floated across the harbor from Long Point to P-town in the 1850’s and 1860’s. Perhaps these wise people saw their fate and decided to move off the sand bar and onto the relative safety of the main town (slightly higher elevation on a bigger sandbar.) Whatever the reason, they relocated and passed their homes down and their history with them. Nice ending,
We offer a series of posts about planned coastal relocation. Many people think retreat is a bad word that should not even be considered, that we always need to rebuild. We offer a different point of view that not only is it something we need to be doing in the face of increased sea level rise, but it is something we already have been doing for decades. There has been building AND retreating from the coast for centuries. It’s just that we’ve been on a tear for building in the last few decades.
So Exhibit 1 is Sea Haven, NJ. What’s that you say? You are a lifelong resident of the NJ Shore and you have never heard of such a town? You didn’t know that Burlington County had a beach community? Well they don’t. Despite being planned and plotted out in blocks and lots, this community was never built. It would have been just south of Long Beach Island on what was known as Tucker’s Island, which was home to a lighthouse from 1848 to 1927 when it fell into the sea. Can you imagine if they tried to defend and rebuild the parts of this island lost to storms, each successive storm? The financial losses? The human suffering? Who thinks it is better that we let the sea reclaim this sandbar?
Oh boy, this sure does complicate things. Now big beach businesses are pushing back, against big beach replenishment and dune projects; not just single family homeowners. For the record, the lawyer quoted in this article actually seems to know what he’s talking about. By MaryAnn Spoto of the Star Ledger http://www.nj.com/ocean/index.ssf/2014/12/jenkinsons_suing_feds_state_over_beach_replenishment_plan.html#incart_m-rpt-1
Can we agree that all this beach replenishment, which is really expensive, and does not really work, is getting to be more and more of a hassle? Can we try pulling back from the water’s edge a bit? Give the most dynamic system on earth a little bit more Room to Move? We know that retreat sounds very hard, but compared to this? Maybe not so much.
Natural dunes are something that everyone in a coastal community supports. Man-made dunes, the kind the Army Corps of Engineers builds, have less support often because they are less effective, they are often part of bad beachfill projects, and because a select few people don’t like the fact that their view will be blocked (although they seem to get all the headlines). But the real opposition comes when you want to build those dunes on people’s private property, and the government demands an easement on that property forever. NJ Governor Chris Christie has made a few enemies where he should have friends, as told in this AP story Nov, 30, 2014.
Or is it accountants with coastal properties? Whatever. The point is that these folks crunched the numbers on what it would cost to get some flood-prone properties out of harm’s way. In just five cities in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, the cost was staggering. A great read in the Washington Post’s Wonkblog called The Huge, Hidden Cost of Protecting Homeowners from the Rising Sea
Original study by Wetlands Watch
We highly recommend the 20 minute video from Ledger Live called Splinters and Sand made 3 months after Sandy. If you have not seen it yet, the link is in this post.
The makers of the video revisited the people and places around the two year anniversary of Sandy. It is a slide show on their path back and where they are now. Very good follow up by the Star Ledger team.
We continue with Sandy anniversary themed posts because for many, the indelible memories came three weeks or so after landfall. This was the first time that volunteers were allowed into certain places to start the cleanup, that (summer) homeowners were allowed on to barrier islands, and for some when they got their electricity back; although some islands had no gas, water or power for weeks more.
Splinters and Sand is a Ledger-Live video by Brian Donohue of NJ’s Star Ledger was made three months after Sandy. It gets to the heart of why we rebuild by exploring the charm of the Jersey Shore and the spell that is casts on all of us. This is why rethinking the Jersey Shore will be hard, but we firmly believe these two ideas are not incompatible. We can love this place and have our children and grandchildren love it while we make it safer and more resilient to the sea level rise and stronger storms that we know are coming.
On this second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, we want to focus on a few stories where people were followed from their situations after the storm until now. This one relates to a buyout on Staten Island. That is one less property we have to worry about, one less homeowner who will need relief in the future. From Jim O’Grady on NPR http://www.npr.org/2014/10/29/359873662/after-the-waves-staten-island-homeowner-takes-sandy-buyout
We like this one for the follow-up, and that it highlights a buyout program that is working.
This is the strongest storm of the year and one of the strongest ever recorded. Rivaling last year’s Typhoon Haiyan, Yongfong is packing sustained winds of 180 mph and gusts close to 220 mph. More from Ari Phillips in Think Progress
Our last post was about at $100 billion hurricane possibly hitting the US East Coast. A direct hit near Tokyo might be the same.