It’s been 6 months since my last post here on Politics of the Environment. During that time I’ve been busy working on the President’s Hurricane Sandy Recovery Task Force. I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some of the nation’s leading experts on disaster recovery on some of the most important issues facing our nation today. It has been a tremendous experience.
The Task Force has released its rebuilding strategy document, which you can access here. Please take the time to review this report that discusses the difficult issues facing, not just New Jersey, but all vulnerable coastal areas of the country as we confront a changing climate and rising sea levels. The strategy document addresses, not just how to recover from a disaster like Hurricane Sandy, but how to rebuild in a manner that will reduce or avoid the vulnerability of people, property and infrastructure to the threats of future extreme weather events. It is a thoughtful and comprehensive evaluation of the challenges posed as the Northeast continues the long process of recovery in the wake of Sandy.
Sandy revealed the necessity of improving hazard mitigation efforts to alter how vulnerable coastal
areas of the densely populated northeast are occupied. Long-standing land use patterns have placed
people, property, and infrastructure in locations that have significant risk of flooding and storm surge
and that will become more vulnerable as sea level continues to rise. Municipalities need to build
the capacity and expertise to take the steps necessary to reduce that risk. Hazard mitigation and
risk reduction must be a primary goal of recovery efforts in the region even if fragmented land use
authority and governance make this a difficult proposition.-Page 125 Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Strategy
It has been a privilege to work with my talented and dedicated fellow Task Force members as well as with the scores of public stakeholders who generously gave their time to provide the perspectives and insights that helped shape the strategy document. I am so grateful that I had the chance to be a part of this undertaking. It was also an honor to serve New Jersey and the United States by participating in this important effort. I will continue working with the Task Force until the end of September and will resume posting here then. Until that time I wanted to drop a quick note to bring the Task Force strategy document to the attention of readers of Politics of the Environment. I hope you find the report interesting and informative. I’ll be back in October with plenty to say.- Ben Spinelli