After Big Storms: Rebuild Or No?

New York’s governor wants Superstorm Sandy victims to move off the coast. We’ll look at when and where to rebuild.

Carpenters install new siding on a storm-damaged beachfront house in the Far Rockaways, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013 in the Queens borough of New York. (AP)

Carpenters install new siding on a storm-damaged beachfront house in the Far Rockaways, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013 in the Queens borough of New York. (AP)

Last week, Congress finally approved $51 billion in aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy.  This week, New York governor Andrew Cuomo says in his state he wants to use a chunk of that big money to pay people not to rebuild on the shore.

To turn neighborhoods into wetlands, salt marshes, room for dunes.  To abandon communities in the path of rising seas.

In many ways, Washington subsidizes coastal life.  Now climate change is making coastal life more vulnerable.  Is it time to pull the plug?

This hour, On Point:  to rebuild or not to rebuild when Mother Nature comes ashore.

-Tom Ashbrook


Matthew Schuerman, transit and economic development reporter for WNYC Radio. (@mlschuer)

Jessica Grannis, staff attorney and professor at the Georgetown Climate Center and the Georgetown University Law Center.

Robert Young, director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines and professor of coastal geology at Western Carolina University.

Rep. Bill Pascrell,Democratic Congressman from New Jersey.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Daily News “Gov. Cuomo wants Hurricane Sandy victims who live along the coast to consider rebuilding their homes on stilts or selling their houses to the state and relocating. ‘At one point, you have to say maybe Mother Nature doesn’t want you here. Maybe she’s trying to tell you something,’ Cuomo said in a phone interview with the Daily News Editorial Board.”

CNN “The government should at this time help victims get their lives back on track. But no federal dollars should magically appear for rebuilding in flood-prone areas. The spots that flood will take repeated hits. Everyone knows this. To help people rebuild in those places is to help put lives and investment in harm’s way. It’s foolish.”

The Record “The aftermath of Katrina along the Gulf Coast, which set off a similarly massive infusion of federal aid, holds some lessons and cautionary tales, experts said. The rebuilding effort there was marked by complexity, confusion and, at times, controversy over spending priorities. The $50.5 billion Sandy aid package signed into law last week has the potential to pose similar challenges due, in part, to its size.”


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