Western Carolina University geologist and coastal expert Rob Young is featured in a pair of new public radio stories at NPR and WNYC that highlight some problems with the Hurricane Sandy relief bill passed by the House in recent days.
Young’s main criticism: Spending billions to rebuild damaged beach communities just like they were before the storm is extremely shortsighted and wasteful. He isn’t saying the communities don’t deserve assistance or that they shouldn’t be rebuilt, but he does say that merely trucking in vast quantities of sand to put things back just like they were is absurd.
Young also argues convincingly that people who choose to live in such communities should be required to contribute significant amounts to the cost of rebuilding.
Of course, the whole problem of how to deal with coastal flooding is sure to be exacerbated in years to come as sea levels continue to rise and storms grow more frequent and intense.
The bottom line: The nation needs smart plans that anticipate these challenges by rebuilding coastal infrastructure so that it is more resilient to future climate and sea level changes. Let’s hope people (and politicians) begin to listen to Young’s common sense advice.