New Jersey Army National Guard aerial views shows the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast. Photo Credit: Reuters
The East Coast has barely begun to assess the cost of recovery after superstorm Sandy last month. It will be billions, for sure.
But does it make sense to spend taxpayer money rebuilding a coastal area—like so many others—that’s so vulnerable to destruction?
Last year, my family and I got caught in Hurricane Irene’s unexpected power tour through the Catskills.
Flood waters destroyed a huge section of our town—stores, homes—most of which have been rebuilt…in exactly the same location.
This is a powerful issue to watch now, as federal, state, and local governments grapple with trillion-dollar deficits and massive public debt—versus the high cost of storms like Sandy.
People want a chance to revive their lives and businesses. But there are hard choices ahead, if those billions in subsidies just keep getting washed away, says SmarterSafer.org, a coalition of policymakers.
On the community level the issues are complicated. “What makes sense on a macro level may not make sense on the micro level,” says Lissa Harris, editor of the Watershed Post, which covers the Catskill region. “If someone’s porch falls off their house, it's not so easy to say, ‘just rebuild outside the floodplain’.”