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NJ Not Ready for Another Superstorm: Report Finds [SERIES]

In part four of our series, ‘Are We Ready,’ we examine the findings of a new report on just how prepared we are for another superstorm.

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Mario Tama, Getty Images

After the Garden State was hammered by Sandy almost one year ago, state officials have launched more than a dozen major programs to restore, recover and prepare for another possible superstorm, should it come our way.

A new report by the Group US Strong, a non-profit, non-partisan initiative focused on building support for Extreme Weather Relief and Protection, suggests despite all the steps that are being taken, including raising homes, building up dunes and beaches and restoring boardwalks, New Jersey won’t be ready for a similar kind of storm unless we get billions of dollars in additional funding – for at least the next decade.

“We’re not ready, we’re not ready for a new extreme storm, and that’s why we really need to examine what we need to do to improve the situation, so that the next storm isn’t so devastating,” says US Strong New Jersey Director Lauren Townsend.

She points out scientists and weather experts tell us we’re in for more frequent and extreme storms.

“We know from studies that for every dollar spent on preparedness, it saves at least 9 dollars on the other end. We need a dedicated fund that you can’t play politics with, that will be in place to help not just in the relief efforts but in the preparedness, and it’s the preparedness that costs a lot of money,” Townsend explained.

A new report put out by the group suggests more than $13 billion in Sandy expenses will not be covered by federal and state funds.

So the bottom line, says Townsend, is that we need to have the will of our federal elected officials to do something about extreme weather.

“It’s not just a New Jersey problem, it’s a national problems with drought, fires and well as more frequent storms and hurricanes, and it’s costly, so we need a dedicated federal fund that will pay for our resiliency.”

Townsend stresses when creating this kind of fund, it’s important that this not burden homeowners through increased property taxes, income taxes, or small business taxes.

“We think a logical source of funding would be to put a financial cost on carbon, because it’s carbon emissions into our atmosphere which is what is fueling extreme weather,” she says.

A U.S. Strong event is being held at Ocean County College tomorrow to address the issue. A round table discussion will take place on how should we fund much needed disaster relief and preparedness, and it will bring together Sandy-affected residents and businesses, organizations and local officials.

“Many people are still psychologically scarred and on the verge of walking away,” says Townsend. “It’s a problem that must be addressed, but it’s going to take years.”

She adds more information is available at USStrong.us.

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