Thousands of NJ homes could flood due to climate change, report says
New estimates place the number of new homes along the shore at flood risk from future sea level rise at just over 3,000 -- up from an earlier estimate of 2,700.
The estimates come from the Climate Central research group and real estate company Zillow. They say 3,087 homes built between 2009 and 2017 are at risk for flooding that the report estimates will happen once per year by 2050.
The stat for new New Jersey homes that would be at risk of the sorts of floods expected once every 10 years is even higher -- 4,524, according to the report.
"The results are clear," the report says. "If the world makes moderate cuts to greenhouse-gas pollution — roughly in line with the Paris agreement on climate, whose targets the international community is not on track to meet — some 17,800 existing homes (nationally) built after 2009 will by the year 2050 risk inundation by a ten-year flood. The figures for 2100 are more than two times higher — and more than three times higher if pollution grows unchecked."
Doug O'Malley, state director of the Environment New Jersey advocacy group, said that means we "actually need to be responsible and stop building some of the riskiest areas along the shore."
He said everyone wants to be close to the water, but with climate change's impacts being felt, "the water and the sea level is rising."
O'Malley said the preservation of wetlands is also important to holding back the sea.
"We're going need to elevate our homes, but we also have to say if we want natural buffers and natural wetlands, we can't build on every plot of land along the Jersey Shore," he said.
The report says Ocean and Cape May counties have more new homes at risk than any other counties in the country. It says New Jersey has more new homes at risk than any other state, both by the 10-year flood and yearly flood figures.
"I think this is where, if you look at development patterns in both of those counties, there is continued development over the course of the last decade, even after Sandy," O'Malley said. "This continued to be development in areas that are essentially in a flood plain. And the danger here is that just because you missed a bullet on Sandy or just because we haven't had another Sandy in seven years, doesn't mean you're in the clear."
He said it's "just the reality of climate change."
"We need do everything we can to mitigate its impacts," O'Malley said. "We also have to adapt and prepare because even if we're able to drastically reduce carbon pollution over the course the next decade, we're still going to see generations of climate impacts."
He says we should also be expanding sand dunes along the shore. But they will not be a "silver bullet" in halting sea level rise," he said.
"So, whether we like it or not the seas are rising. There's going to be more flooding and it's going to impact these homes which are being built in flood zones," he said.
Joe Cutter is the Senior News Anchor at New Jersey 101.5.
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