Panel discusses NJ shore hurricane preparedness

ORTLEY BEACH, N.J. - October 25, 2013

The answer from some is not encouraging

"No I don't think we are stronger then the storm and I also think we are not prepared for the next storm," said Lauren Townsend, US Strong.

The nonprofit group US Strong sponsored a panel discussion at Ocean County College to talk about how to prepare for the next big coastal storm and beyond that into the future.

One immediate need discussed - shoring up the dunes in places like Ortley Beach where they were wiped out last year.

"Here there are many people rebuilding and trying to pull their lives back together and those dunes have not been touched. They are sitting ducks waiting for another problem to happen," said Joan Delucia, Sandy Weekday Warriors.

The Surfrider Foundation is one group advocating for a New Jersey coastal commission to guide development and land-use decisions at the shore.

"There's ever more people and you see levels rising so there's less land. Well we can probably still fit as many people in the same amount of area, but we have to develop differently," said John Weber, Surfrider Foundation.

Some argue that not controlling development will lead to more costly disasters.

"And the more we build up our coastal areas, the more expensive it's going to be to remediate the damage," said Margo Pellegrino, Medford Lakes.

US Strong recently issued a report that says Sandy caused $70 billion in damage to the region and up to $13 billion of that will not be covered by the state or federal government.

Homeowners, businesses and communities will bear that cost. The group says it's time for a single funding source to address that.

"What we are advocating for is a federal extreme weather relief and protection fund that will be there for communities who are vulnerable to extreme weather, to be able to prepare in advance of the extreme weather and also be able to react to it when it happens," said Townsend.

That, they say, is a long-term solution that would make a difference.

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