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.
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.
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.
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 big news this week was that the Transportation Security Administration, TSA, failed 95% of tests where undercover agents brought weapons, fake bomb parts and contraband through airport security screening. Why is a website dedicated to coastal resilience telling you this? It is because we hope to avoid the coastal equivalent of Security Theater. Security Theater are the activities that look good to the untrained eye; full body scanners, people taking their shoes off, etc., that do not really keep us safer.
We are wondering if there is a coastal equivalent – if there are things that “look good” but that don’t really protect the vast majority of us. A better question might be what is the most efficient? What measures provides the most protection for the coastal resiliency dollar. We definitely can’t send fake hurricanes up the coast to test this.
Our guess is that beach replenishment is in the category of things that look really good to the untrained eye. But upon closer inspection, it takes a massive amount of resources, but delivers most of the benefits to a very small number of people; the owners oceanfront line of houses. Even then the protection is mostly from wave attack, and this is only when massive dunes are built. We have plenty of evidence that beaches replenished with no dunes provided little protection from Sandy. So even with replenishment, everyone behind the oceanfront line of houses on barrier islands is still subject to regular flooding and inundation, and everyone on the mainland lining the bay is vulnerable still. No amount of sand on any ocean-side beach will protect those on the other side of the island or the other side of the Bay.
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?
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.
You know they add sand to a beach to prevent flooding. But we have already explained how that doesn’t really work unless dunes are built too. However, here is a case where beachfill caused flooding. Carol Gorga Williams in the Asbury Park Press, August 9th.
It reminded us of this incident nine years ago. Glad we saved the clipping.
We recently posted about the proposed rules in NJ that would make it easier to develop in the coastal zone, here.
Additional opinion pieces from Bill Potter, a notable environmental lawyer in NJ here and from Bob Sandberg of the Sierra Club.
We need your help to stop this insanity! Take the time to register your comments, info below. Here are some suggested elements.
- This is a 1000 page rule proposal. Public hearings began just as the summer vacation season got underway in late June, and the written comment period ends on August 1st. This is not an appropriate amount of time for the public to digest this sweeping rule overhaul.
- The proposed coastal development rule changes do not take into account climate change, future storms, or rises in sea level along the Jersey Shore, which is a recipe for future disasters.
- The proposed coastal development rule changes do not incorporate lessons learned from the devastation to New Jersey coastal communities from Superstorm Sandy, calling for increased development in hazardous coastal areas.
- A proposed new class of permit, “permit-by-certification” is also cause for concern, as this will allow permit seekers to obtain a permit automatically through a website, without review by NJDEP staff.
Make it personal! Add your true thoughts, feelings, and experiences. We all lived through this!
To make your voice hear on this disastrous rule change please go to http://www.nj.gov/dep/rules/comments/ Fill in your information (don’t worry you will not be added to any lists as a result) Where it says Select Rule-making, choose DEP Docket No. 03-14-04 Coastal Zone Management Rules and Coastal Permit Program Rules; proposed consolidation with amendments
3. Add a comment, up to 20,000 characters.
Despite its “mom and apple pie” reputation, there are many coastal dwellers and users who do not thing beach replenishment is so great. In this edition – anglers. AP story by Wayne Parry here. We find it interesting because the Army Corps personnel have already said beachfill alone is unsustainable with the current rate of sea level rise.
Years of Living Dangerously sounds like a history of development at the Jersey Shore. But in fact it is the title of a Showtime series exploring climate change as it affects human beings, not climate change as an academic discussion. Continue reading “Years of Living Dangerously”