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NJ Sandy Recovery Fails to Consider Long-term Climate Predictions

For elected officials, it can be a difficult balancing act trying to help people repair their damages quickly and cost-effectively while also preventing them from making mistakes that could come back to haunt them in the long term. But the good news is that a study commissioned by FEMA several years ago found that those planning on elevating might as well go as high as possible, since the incremental cost of adding a few extra feet isn’t all that great. Plus, residents and towns that go above and beyond the FEMA height requirements could save substantial amounts on their flood insurance.

Whenever he speaks about the Sandy recovery, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan often quotes a study from the National Institute of Building Science that found that every dollar spent on mitigation today could save four dollars over the long run. Perhaps with that study in mind, HUD’s recent allocation of an additional $5 billion in federal Sandy aid -- including $1.46 billion for New Jersey -- requires that recipients prepare detailed risk assessments of sea-level rise and climate-change impacts. The details remain to be seen, but environmental and planning groups are optimistic this could compel the Christie administration into making greater strides to confront the risks that lie ahead.

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