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.
A great look forward by these Virginia municipalities to plan for sea level rise. By mapping out what roads are underwater when, they can plan to re-route or re-locate those roads in the future. They can also make changes to storm-water systems, where storm-water goes, etc. It all starts with a map. Jordan Pascale of the Virginian-Pilot tells us more.
But this makes us wonder, why is it OK to relocate a road based on where the water will be in the future, but if you try to relocate a home, it is Un-American?
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.
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 Subtitle on this one is – How an historic Nor’easter, and Act of Congress, and then eleven more years of political battle turned back development from one of the largest barrier islands on the East Coast.
Assateague Island, which stretches from Maryland all the way into Virginia celebrates its 50th year as a National Seashore this year. If you know this area, you know what a gem this is and here is an excellent historical account of how it came to be in this Maryland Coast Dispatch article. It is long but I urge you to read it.
The short version is that development was planned for the island, land was purchased, surveyed, subdivided, roads were paved, thousands of lots were bought, some were developed. Sound familiar? The State of Maryland was interested in establishing a State Park on the Maryland side and that finally happened in a sweetheart deal with a developer. The developer “donated” 540 acres for the park in exchange for the State building a bridge so people could get to his developments. Then the 1962 Ash Wednesday Storm hit. The development was more or less obliterated. Previously attempted efforts to establish a National Park / National Seashore were renewed and in 1965 that finally happened. But the legislation establishing the National Seashore did not completely halt all commercial and residential development, so once again developers pushed forward.
A visionary citizen named Judy Johnson created the Committee to Preserve Assateague and a member of Congress advised her that the only way to keep development off the island was to change the enabling legislation that established the National Seashore. Eleven years later, she was finally successful and we all have her to thank.
Most of us in the area know that the State of NY moved quickly on relocating whole Staten Island neighborhoods after Sandy. NJ…not so much. Best in depth article about the mechanics of how this all unfolded in NY by Elizabeth Rush in Urban Omnibus. http://urbanomnibus.net/2015/02/leaving-the-sea-staten-islanders-experiment-with-managed-retreat/
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?
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