As coastal communities across the nation weigh options for dealing with climate change, a rising sea and more frequent flood events, policy makers are coming around to the realization that a more holistic, longer-term view is not only necessary, but also more practical.
Buying out and moving flood threatened residents from harms way offers significant disaster recovery savings according to both FEMA and the Center for American Progress. Between 2011 and 2013 Congress spent $400 per household on relief and recovery after major disasters. The National Flood Insurance Program with a total $527 billion liability owes taxpayers $28 billion. The revenue from premiums brings in only $3.8 billion a year. The US coastal flood hazard area is expected to increase 50 percent due to global warming by 2100, thereby expanding the NFIP liability 130 percent to over a trillion dollars.
As sea levels rise over time, the coastal hazard areas will include airports, seaports, railroad yards, and cities. The expenditures for protective coastal hardened structures for these areas will dwarf what has already been experienced. Political pressure may jeopardize available funding for the recovery and relief of less populated flood hazard areas.
The expense of moving citizens and assets with buyouts usually pays off in 10 years by virtually eliminating future disaster recovery costs and taxpayer liability. Also, the natural habitat will flourish, natural storm barriers will offer greater protection, and the coastal environment will benefit.
If conservative climate change forecasts become a reality, the buyout solution may reduce capital expenditures for recovery and relief enough to make the potential tax payer burden affordable.
To read the full Center for American Progress report with details on buyout programs, please click here.
For those who missed CCQ’s August 17th presentation by Dr. Robert Young, we encourage you to read a brief reaction and summary of the event, Time to Take Heed, authored by Karl Grossman and published by The Southampton Press. Mr. Grossman is an award-winning journalist who has dedicated much time and ink to covering the history and current state of the East End’s beaches.
The CCQ is pleased that Mr. Grossman’s interpretation of Dr. Young’s message is consistent with ours: that the best and most cost-effective intervention to save both private property and our beaches is to relocate structures, whenever it is possible to do so.
Dr. Young stressed that the implementation of hard structures to control erosion (such as revetments, groins, seawalls, jetties and so-called “semi-hard” structures, like geo-tubes) create considerable damage to the beach. It was surprising to learn that these negative effects have been formally acknowledged by the Army Corps of Engineers, although the Corps continues to incorporate the use of many hard structures in its reformulation of the Fire Island to Montauk Point plan—a topic Mr. Grossman has covered extensively as recently as July, and stretching back far before Superstorm Sandy.
To read the full article, please click here. (Many thanks to The Press News Group for consenting to our use and reproduction of the article.)
All the way back in March of 1981, a group of concerned coastal geologists authored a position paper on “Saving the American Beach”; the result of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography Conference on America’s Eroding Shoreline. It was subsequently presented to U.S. President Reagan in 1982.
In it, leading geologists from across the country outlined the threats of coastal development in the face of shoreline erosion, and recommended solutions that avoid the immense costs—both fiscal and environmental—of structural stabilization. Continue reading Geologists’ Timeless 1981 ‘Skidaway Report’