Friday, August 1, 2014

Lacking statewide strategy, New Jersey shore towns prepare for climate change

Carolyn Beeler at Hurricane Sandy was a harsh wake-up call for Jersey shore communities, a reminder of their vulnerability in the face of predicted sea-level rise, more intense storms and increasingly frequent coastal flooding.

Now that post-storm cleanup and rebuilding is slowing, New Jersey shore communities, aided by non-profits and academic centers, are developing comprehensive resiliency plans to better prepare for the longer-term challenges of climate change.

...With immediate repairs now over, Tuckerton and many other municipalities are beginning to grapple with planning for a much longer-term challenge: sea-level rise. Rutgers researchers project sea level will rise between 13 to 28 inches by 2050, while New Jersey itself gradually sinks.

...The Borough of Tuckerton joined with surrounding Little Egg Harbor Township for Sandy cleanup and resiliency planning. Still, administrator Jenny Gleghorn said it feels like a tiny town facing a huge challenge. "If the state of New Jersey would just say, 'This is the type of thing that you need to do, and here's some funding to help that out,' I think a lot of towns would benefit from that," Gleghorn said. "We can't be the only towns that are in this situation."

....Still, floodplain manager John Miller and some of the most vocal environmental groups in the state see the rule change as a missed opportunity to incorporate lessons learned from Sandy into coastal land use policy. In the face of rising seas, he argues putting more people in low-lying areas near the coast will make it harder to evacuate them, or reach them with emergency services....

Hurricane Sandy eats a rollercoaster in New Jersey, New Jersey National Guard photo

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