Sandy Rebuilding Task Force Issues Recommendations
August 19th, 2013 by Chris Sturm
Report stresses data-driven decision-making, support for long-term planning
ON Aug. 19, 2013, the federal Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force released its strategy report, the culmination of its six months of work in the region affected by last October’s superstorm. It includes 69 recommendations designed to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely so that housing, communities, businesses and the state’s economy are restored in a way that will help them withstand future storms.
Several recommendations stand out as enabling New Jersey to rebuild not just faster, but smarter. The report emphasizes using the best scientific data, including projections of sea-level rise, to guide development and infrastructure investments into safe locations. Other recommendations in the report address finding ways to provide additional capacity to affected towns over the long term, so that they have the necessary resources to plan for future disasters. This additional capacity includes support for more robust hazard mitigation planning and funding to provide local recovery planning managers for more than the initial year that is currently provided by the New Jersey Recovery Fund. A third recommendation focuses on resources to allow inter-municipal planning to address challenges common to more than one town, that often demand a regional response. All of these recommendations, when implemented, will help New Jersey recover in a way that ensures it is more resilient to future storms.
“We at New Jersey Future join with all the other organizations working on helping the region recover in thanking the task force and its chairman, Secretary Shaun Donovan of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, for their diligence and hard work in identifying challenges and recommending strategies to address them,” said Peter Kasabach, executive director of New Jersey Future. “Coastal communities need resources to understand more completely the risks they face so they can plan for the long term, with the ultimate goal of moving as many people and resources as possible out of harm’s way.”
“Sea levels are rising in New Jersey, which will have enormous impacts on residents, business and communities. They need help to prepare and adapt.” said Chris Sturm, New Jersey Future’s senior director of state policy. “The task force recommendations provide important guidance on how to incorporate future risk assessments into rebuilding efforts. We are still waiting to see how the Christie administration will incorporate sea level rise into its long-range planning, and how they will help folks at the local level to do the same. For example, we have not yet heard whether the state Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) currently under revision and the $2.5 million grant program for county HMPs, which is mentioned in the task force report, will include sea level rise among the risks considered.”
Additional recommendations focused on making infrastructure more resilient to future storms, with a particular emphasis on using green infrastructure to manage stormwater and mitigate flood damage; ensuring equitable access to recovery resources by renters, those of lower income and those with special needs; and making the process of finding out about, applying for and securing recovery funds more streamlined and transparent. The full report is available on the HUD website.