Coastal Protection A Critical Part of Future

Hurricane Sandy: Hudson River rising in Manhattanville

View from Manhattan as Hurricane Sandy approaches New York City and the water rises (Photo courtesy Paul Lowry, Creative Commons)

By: Justin Siliezar, GAIN

Tens of billions of dollars have been spent on coastal reconstruction of homes and communities hit by natural disasters. The amount of federal money going to New York, New Jersey and other states that are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy is likely to exceed $30 billion – all paid for by tax dollars. Federal programs to help cover the cost in damages from storms such as hurricanes are quickly becoming tapped as natural events increase in frequency.

As destructive hurricanes and other storms become more of a norm, this poses a question to the federal government and taxpayers. Why keep rebuilding in vulnerable areas prone to storm damage? The cost of rebuilding is becoming a burden on both the federal government and the taxpayer, and as a society, we must adapt to our changing climate.

Currently, several communities benefit from the Stafford Act, a federal law that taps the United States Treasury for 75 percent or more of the cost of fixing storm-damaged infrastructure such as roads and utilities. However, the increasing cost of post-storm rebuilding has caused decision makers to ask what needs to change? A few communities have begun enforcing more strict state building codes. Some people have suggested that government should invest in adapting and building resilience against these natural disasters. Others have proposed that the government offer buyouts to people with destroyed property.

By reducing the exposure, the costs from damages may be reduced. For example, during the 1990s entire towns were moved from the Mississippi River flood plain, which likely saved lives and improved livelihoods in the area that is highly vulnerable to flooding.

To build resilience, communities must invest in coastal protection, durable energy infrastructure and safeguarding water and food supplies. Read the article, “As Coasts Rebuild and U.S. Pays, Repeatedly, the Critics Ask Why,” by clicking, HERE.