Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Prepare now or face flooding, report warns Jersey Shore

Kirk Moore in USA Today via the Asbury Park Press: ...The economic fallout from Hurricane Sandy will be the future of the Barnegat Bay region for decades to come unless communities do more to prepare for sea-level rise, say Rutgers University researchers whose new report focuses intently on the economic risks from climate change for New Jersey's Ocean County.

For communities like Beach Haven West, it's an ominous warning that former marshlands converted to resort housing in the 1960s — and now, year-round homes — will be hit again and again without new investments to keep neighborhoods safer from high-water storms. Those measures could include both "hard" public works, like improved drainage systems and wave barriers, and "soft" projects like restoring wetlands as storm buffers, the report says.

"The biggest thing we run into is people are confused: 'Do I have to raise my house or not?' " said Pastor Drew Overgard of Cedar Run Assembly of God in West Creek, N.J., which sponsors volunteer teams that are rebuilding homes in Beach Haven West. Coordinated by churches of the Southern Ocean County Community Resource Center, the work crews are trying to make homes habitable again for seniors, the uninsured and under-insured.

..."It's not just sea-level rise," said Robin Leichenko, an economic geographer with Rutgers who led the climate impact project. "There's a whole fleet of things people need to think through," such as longer droughts and forest fire seasons in the Pine Barrens," a heavily forested area of coastal plain that stretches across more than seven counties in southern New Jersey....

Sunset at Barnegat Bay, shot by Andrew Bossi, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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