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NJ Slow to Respond With Plans to Deal with Threat Posed by Climate Change

Towns in areas threatened by prospect of rising sea levels go it alone, with help from nonprofit environmental groups

WHYY beach construction
Credit: Scott Gurian
A new home being built on pilings in a flood-prone section of Long Beach Township.

Every state along the Eastern Seaboard has, or is actively developing, a statewide plan for adapting to climate change.

Every state, that is, except New Jersey, even though a Rutgers University study projects that sea level will rise between 13 to 28 inches by 2050, while New Jersey itself gradually sinks.

That’s why, in the aftermath of the devastation unleashed by Hurricane Sandy, Jersey Shore towns are taking it upon themselves – with a big helping hand from nonprofit groups including New Jersey Future and the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve -- to develop comprehensive resiliency plans using maps with up-to-date sea level rise projections.

The borough of Tuckerton, for instance, has relocated its police department out of a flood plain and plans to replace sewer and water pipes with salt-resistant materials. Flooded homes have been put on stilts and roadways flooded during Sandy have been elevated.

Still, officials in many Jersey Shore towns say the state needs a uniform policy pertaining to climate change – with reliable funding – to help small towns deal with such a big and complex issue.

Read and listen to the full report by Carolyn Beeler of WHYY/NewsWorks, a partner of NJ Spotlight.

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