Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Shored Up": Looking at coastal property development in view of climate change, natural storms

Shored Up”, presented today by FilmfestDC as a free film in the Columbia Room of Union Station in Washington DC, is presented by its director, Ben Kalina as a work in progress.  But at 84 minutes, it seemed like a pretty close-to-done study of the problems of building housing, mostly luxury resorts today, on beachfront property, particularly barrier  islands, off the coasts of New Jersey and then North Carolina.  
Much of the early part of the film presents damage from Hurricane Sandy, particularly in Union Beach, NJ, which was not wealthy enough to lobby for money for beach sand restoration projects.  Breezy Point in the Rockaways (Queens, NY) is shown briefly, as is the flooding of the subways.

 The documentary also argues that shore islands tend to move naturally, and will do so more with climate change.
The film presents the history of a March 1962 noreaster which was as destructive as Sandy to some beach communities.  (The same storm produced heavy snow inland, west of Washington DC).  Yet, much of the same area was rebuilt within 20 years, with residents having short memories.  Developers seem to have no awareness of the dangers of living in a coastal area – or they may not care.  One homeowner on the North Carolina coast said he needed only five years in his unprotected house to break even before losing it.

A Republican North Carolina congresswoman says that conservatives need to rethink the meaning of "conservative" when it refers to conserving resources, and bailing out wealthy property owners.  
The official site is here

Toward the end, New York State governor Andrew Cuomo speaks, and notes that we will have to make careful decisions about where we rebuild. 

During the Q&A, a woman from the Union of Concerned Scientists spoke.  I asked about the volunteerism and “grab a hammer” spirit that was demonstrated by the public after the storm, almost oblivious to the idea that it might be unwise to rebuild.  Kalina noted that you can’t hold moderate income people  (mostly on the NY side) hostage to choices made in the past by politicians and developers.        
I report on my own trip through the area on my “Issues” blog March 13-15. Pictures (Seaside Heights NJ, and Staten Island, my trip).  

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