Parts of the iconic Highway 12 through the Outer Banks of North Carolina need to be replaced after Hurricane Matthew. Just like parts that needed to be replaced from the previous storm, and the one before that. When coastal geologists tell you this is going to keep happening (in case the stark reality of it is not enough for you) – why wouldn’t you move this road? The Virginia Pilot’s Jeff Hampton talks about the cost of it all in this article.
Connecting the Dots, Sandy, Development, HUD Grant, Jonas
Just before the big weekend winter storm Jonas which brought heavy snowfall and severe coastal flooding to southern coastal NJ, HUD announced the grant awards through the National Disaster Resilience Competition. And the biggest losers was…the State of NJ. That’s right, the state that was hit the hardest by Sandy got the least. But let’s unpack this a little. We are certainly not in the “sour grapes” camp who think this is political and people don’t like NJ. Not at all. Read about the grant awards here.
The main criticism was the NJ’s application did not leverage these federal funds. That means that NJ wasn’t putting in any of its own money. What with tax breaks to rich people, a pennies on the dollar settlement with Exxon, who has extra money for things like resiliency to disasters?
But the feds probably also see how any money they give NJ would probably be a bad investment anyway. They see the massive re-write of the rules on development in the coastal zone; the ones that make it easier to develop in the coastal zone, the ones that don’t mention sea level rise or climate change in their 1000 page re-write of those rules. They realize NJ is not serious about resiliency or preventing the next disaster.
The NYC proposal got $176 million as opposed to NJ’s $15 million. But look at what NYC is proposing; a massive flood-wall on the edge of Manhattan that will serve as a park, open space, greenery around an island of concrete. It sounds like a terrific addition to the City even without the flood protection, which it also provides. Whereas NJ’s proposal was to simply start a planning process, develop flood mapping tools and develop a list of best practices. This stuff already exists.
The Strongest Hurricane in Recorded History…
…is heading towards Mexico’s Pacific coast. Hurricane Patricia has sustained winds of 200 miles per hour. Unfortunately, this storm will put all previous storms to shame. Thankfully, the population is sparse in this area, so loss of life and property will be much less than if this hit somewhere else.
The point here is to not look backwards, it has never served us well. Don’t think that it can’t happen, or it can’t happen here. It can, and we should prepare for such storms. What previous generations thought could never happen, happened like with Issac’s Storm.
House Washes Away in Wildwood
Hurricane Joaquin will be staying out to sea, not making landfall. But we are experiencing a coastal storm right now, a Nor’ Easter. This is a garden variety Nor’ Easter; we get one like this every year, maybe a couple times a year. But this one has washed away a home in the Grassy Sound section of Wildwood, NJ. Read all about it in the Press of Atlantic City story here.
All the sand in the world on the beaches of Wildwood would not make the least bit of difference to these folks. The same can be said for all of NJ’s 127 miles of beach.
New Study on NJ Storms Goes Back to 850 A. D.
A new study by Rutgers, Penn State Princeton, Tufts, and MIT suggests that storms are getting more frequent and more intense along the NJ coast was released Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Ben Horton of Rutgers was part of the team and you will remember him from the film Shored Up.
“A storm that occurred once in seven generations is now occurring twice in a generation,” he said.
“Issac’s Storm” – a Good Read
We’ve been on vacation here at Rethink the Jersey Shore, on a barrier island. It is hurricane season after all so the summer reading included Issac’s Storm by Erick Larson. We could barely put it down.
It’s about the hurricane that struck Galveston, TX in 1900; the incredible hubris of forecasters and residents alike, and the incredible devastation that followed.
Of course people will say that could never happen these days. But that’s what they said back then. Looking backwards at what has happened before and preparing for that has never served us well. Imagination of how bad it could be, and preparing for such a scenario is the best course of action. In this case, a glance back helps prepare the imagination.
Beachfill and Safety
Beach replenishment is one of the only tools in the Army Corps of Engineers’ toolbox, not to mention the largest. We have said it deserves a critical eye for quite some time now, and Delaware Beach Life magazine did just that from the safety perspective. Lynn R. Parks takes a good hard look here, one needs to register to see the full article, but it is free and well worth typing in your name and email.
If one more person breaks their neck on a replenished beach will all that expensive, temporary property protection be worth it?
Hansen Predicts 10 Feet of Sea Level Rise by 2100
Former NASA Scientist and preeminent climate predictor James Hansen has released a new study saying the ice sheets of Greenland are melting 10 times faster than predicted and there could be 10 feet in sea level rise by 2100. He also says a 2 degree (only) increase in global temperatures as a target for an international agreement on climate change is not going to cut it.
This man has been called alarmist, and right by the same people. Great coverage on Slate.com by Eric Holthaus here.
And also in the Daily Beast here by Mark Hertsgaard
2.5 Years Later Only 10% with NJ State Aid Have Rebuilt
This is why we need more Rethinking. If you believe we will just rebuild (again) after the next Sandy, listen to these three stories of people getting government aid to rebuild by Scott Gurian of NJ Public Radio and NJ Spotlight. The process of dishing out government aid and rebuilding is so messy, so inefficient, and so fraught with pitfalls that we should Rethink at every opportunity and get these homes out of harms way.
Given the choice, do you think these people would have taken a government buyout of their property before the storm? Or the living hell they are going through now trying to Rebuild afterwards?
The $24 Million Mile
Beach replenishment has always been expensive, and we can distinctly remember a project in 2008 when the cost reached the $10 million-a-mile mark. So we found it astounding that the recent beachfill in Monmouth County from Loch Arbour to Deal, NJ – a stretch of 1.6 miles – clocks in at a whopping $38.2 million. That’s damn near $24 million a mile. But wait there’s more. This beachfill does not even include dunes, only flat, wide beaches the kind that provided no protection from Hurricane Sandy. The kind of beachfill that Spring Lake, Belmar, Monmouth Beach, and Sea Bright all had. Yet those towns suffered devastating losses as a result of Sandy.
At any price, we think the impacts on recreation, the loss of surf breaks and fishing habitat are not worth it. The disgusting sand is not worth it. And the band-aid applied to our poor coastal planning and development is not worth it. But at $24 million a mile, this practice needs some serious thought. There are 127 miles of NJ oceanfront. At this rate, that’s $3 Billion, on top of the $1 Billion already spent on replenishment in this state. Can you think of anything you would rather have the federal government do with $3 Billion?
Good just-the-facts-ma’am kind of reporting in this NJ Spotlight article by Scott Gurian is where we pulled the numbers from.