The numbers describing Superstorm Sandy's toll on the Jersey Shore are coming in, but apparently they are not graphic enough to pull some political leaders out of a state of denial. Too many are rushing ahead to rebuild the Shore that was, rather than think through what these communities -- and taxpayers -- need.
Thirty-nine people died. More than 30,000 businesses and homes were severely damaged or destroyed. An additional 42,000 homes were affected. More than 100 miles of beach was washed away. So far, 233,000 people have registered for Federal Emergency Management Agency aid, and FEMA has distributed more than $500 million to storm-struck Jerseyans. The damage estimates keep growing. Gov. Christie last week set the cost at $36.8 billion - up from a previous estimate of $29.4 billion.
Yet at the first of several legislative hearings into the storm's aftermath, most of the talk from coastal town officials was about getting money to rebuild; getting money to clear broken docks, boats, and houses out of the back bays; and getting utilities to share grid maps with townships to ease the restoration of power after the next storm. All this is necessary, but before some of this work proceeds, there also needs to be a discussion about how to rebuild -- or whether it should even happen in some places.
The Philadelphia Inquirer