Readers of these pages will recognize the Netherland’s Henk Ovink. He is the Dutchman who came to the US after Sandy to share his country’s expertise in resilient designs for living with and staying safe from flooding.
He was also profiled in the NY Times Magazine around the time of the Rebuild by Design Competition that he led.
But a Dutch graduate student in landscape architecture may be giving him a run for his money. Marit Noest came to NJ two years after Sandy and after completely un-learning the Dutch way of doing things, she successfully wrapped her head around the American approach to the situation. She made a film called At the Edge for her graduate thesis which incorporates people’s attitudes towards rebuilding and using and enjoying the shore. She also made a terrific design for a stronger Asbury Park beachfront that lets people enjoy what the shore has to offer while making it much more resilient.
Trailer of the film here. And a presentation of Marit’s thesis plus the film here
We encourage you to fully explore everything about the project here. https://creatingattheedge.wordpress.com/
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 biggest and best set of dunes in NJ just got bigger and better thanks to the recent Nor’easter. No federal agency was involved, nor were any taxpayer dollars, and there was no messy legal fuss involving easements or eminent domain. Great article and pictures here.
This same set of dunes was already on Rethink after Sandy, with a 5 minute video linked to this post.
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.
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.
Full story by Wayne Parry in the Record here.
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?
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.
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.