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Some Experts Say It's Time to Evacuate the Coast (for Good)

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  • Pat N self only
    Excerpt: quotes by Howard Marlowe, president of Marlowe & Company I think we need to be asking that and discussing that, and the federal government needs to
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 4, 2005
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      Excerpt: quotes by Howard Marlowe,
      president of Marlowe & Company

      "I think we need to be asking that and discussing that, and the federal government needs to provide leadership,"

      "I have never been an advocate for the federal government telling people that they have to move out, but it's important to have a discussion at all levels of government about what can be done to
      make sure more people do not put themselves in harm's way. It will
      not be an easy dialogue."

      ---------- Forwarded Message ----------
      Some Experts Say It's Time to Evacuate the Coast (for Good)

      Source: Copyright 2005, New York Times
      Date: October 4, 2005
      Byline: CORNELIA DEAN

      PENSACOLA, Fla. - As the Gulf Coast reels from two catastrophic
      storms in a month, and the Carolinas and Florida deal with damage and
      debris from hurricanes this year and last, even some supporters of
      coastal development are starting to ask a previously unthinkable
      question: is it time to consider retreat from the coast?

      Scientists are trying to determine the most vulnerable coastal
      communities. Many point to Dauphin Island, Ala., which was heavily
      damaged in Hurricane Katrina.
      Yes, said Howard Marlowe, president of Marlowe & Company, a lobbying
      firm that represents counties and local governments, often in seeking
      support for coastal infrastructure, like roads, sewers and beach
      replenishment. "I think we need to be asking that and discussing
      that, and the federal government needs to provide leadership," Mr.
      Marlowe said.

      He added, "I have never been an advocate for the federal government
      telling people that they have to move out, but it's important to have
      a discussion at all levels of government about what can be done to
      make sure more people do not put themselves in harm's way. It will
      not be an easy dialogue."

      The idea that much of the coast is dangerous and getting more so is
      not new. Coastal scientists have been saying for years that global
      warming will threaten coastal areas with higher seas and more
      powerful storms, and that a hurricane lull that began in the mid-
      1960's will eventually give way to the far more dangerous pattern of
      storms that prevailed in the 1930's, 40's and 50's. Since then,
      though, development has transformed the nation's shoreline,
      especially on the east and gulf coasts.

      By last year, when four hurricanes crossed the state of Florida in a
      matter of weeks, it was clear the lull had ended. This year,
      Hurricanes Katrina, Ophelia and Rita drove the hazard lesson home.

      A. R. Schwartz, a Democrat who for decades represented Galveston and
      much of the Texas coast in the State Legislature, said he now
      regretted some of the legislation he had pushed that subsidized
      development on the coast, particularly a measure that provides tax
      relief to insurance companies faced with wind damage claims.

      Mr. Schwartz, whose constituents knew him as Babe, said that measure
      was "a terrible mistake - in my mind, as opposed to my heart, because
      the people need the insurance - because it has been an invitation for
      people to build homes on barrier islands and on peninsulas that are
      exposed to storms, at public expense."

      "We are facing a crisis now because of that law I passed," said Mr.
      Schwartz, who now lives in Austin where he works as a lobbyist and
      lawyer.

      Daniel P. Schrag, director of the Harvard University Center for the
      Environment, said that as coastal areas, and islands, recover "there
      has to be a discussion of what responsibility we have not to
      encourage people to rebuild their houses in the same way."

      Even the fate of New Orleans should be open to discussion, Dr. Schrag
      said. "Spending hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild a city
      that puts it in harm's way once again and relying on technology such
      as higher dikes and levees seems to me a very dangerous strategy,"
      the more so in an era of global warming.

      Erosion already threatens 70 percent of the nation's coastline, and
      is especially severe on the east and gulf coasts. In a report to
      Congress in 2000, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said that
      more than a quarter of the houses within 500 feet of the coast might
      be lost to the sea by 2060. The report said these losses would put an
      intolerable burden on the federal government, which insures many of
      the structures through its flood insurance program.

      "We are getting these lifetime storms every couple of years," said
      Riley G. Hoggard, a resource management specialist at the Gulf
      Islands National Seashore, where the road to Fort Pickens, on Santa
      Rosa Island here, has been washed out and rebuilt three times in the
      last year. "Maybe we need to get into a program of orderly retreat."

      In recent decades, people have been doing just the opposite.
      According to the Census Bureau, 87 million people, nearly a third of
      the nation's population, live on or near the Atlantic or gulf coasts.

      Harry Simmons, president of the American Shore and Beach Preservation
      Association, which advocates for beach replenishment and other
      infrastructure support for coastal communities, said that 3,600
      Americans moved to the coast every day.

      "You cannot draw up a worse case scenario for increased property
      damage, risk to human life and cost to taxpayers," said Robert S.
      Young of Western Carolina University, who studies coastal development.

      Just as a commission was formed to identify military bases for
      closing, he said, a commission should be formed to identify "those
      sections of shoreline that are clearly so vulnerable to storm damage
      that they should no longer receive any federal subsidy of
      infrastructure rebuilding, they should be yanked out of the flood
      insurance program, those sorts of things."

      Mr. Young said the commission should be made up of representatives
      from FEMA, the United States Geological Survey, the Army Corps of
      Engineers and university researchers. "It could not have politicians
      on it because coastal politicians, even if they are fiscal
      conservatives, would want to defend their coastal turf," he said.

      He said he would propose the idea this month, when he has been asked
      to testify before a subcommittee of the House Resources
      Committee. "We need to just make a start," he said.

      Meanwhile, scientists from the geological survey have been making
      detailed observations of the coastal landscape, before and after
      storms, to try to identify characteristics, not always obvious, that
      make areas more or less vulnerable to storm damage.

      The geological survey is not in the business of defining where people
      should or should not live, said Abby Sallenger, a scientist with the
      agency who has been leading data collection efforts on the gulf
      coast. But, he said, "There are sections of the east and gulf coasts
      that are extremely hazardous and the scientific community could come
      to agreement on where they are" so that policy makers could act on
      the information.

      Like others who study this issue, he said two good candidates for
      retreat were Dauphin Island in Alabama, much of it wiped out by
      Hurricane Katrina, and North Topsail Island, N.C., which, he
      said, "gets wiped out routinely."

      But plenty of people reject the idea that those who live on the coast
      are any more at risk than those who live in areas prone to tornadoes,
      earthquakes or forest fires, even in an era of increased storms.

      "There are engineering solutions to almost any problem we face," said
      Mr. Simmons of the beach association, who is mayor of Caswell Beach,
      N.C., near Cape Fear. He said the problem with places like North
      Topsail Island is too little infrastructure support, not too
      much. "We are not doing a good enough job maintaining things" like
      beaches, he said.

      In the past, the promise of engineering has prevailed against efforts
      to get the federal government out of the coastal development
      business.

      More than a decade ago, for example, FEMA scientists suggested
      imposing new limits on federally subsidized flood insurance and
      government support for roads, sewers and other infrastructure in
      erosion hazard areas. But advocates for development denounced the
      move as undue federal interference, and it was defeated.

      Setback requirements have been successfully challenged as
      unconstitutionally limiting people's use of their property.

      But Mr. Marlowe, the lobbying firm president, said: "What I am
      looking for is a national commitment to a plan that says: 'O.K., we
      have people in these areas, how are we going to protect them? We have
      other people in these areas where we are going to discourage future
      development because we cannot protect things that are there.' "

      Mr. Simmons said this kind of planning would be a good thing. But he
      said the beach preservation association "has always taken the
      position that sound development is the way to go," with zoning and
      building codes determined locally. "What I hear some people saying is
      you should just bulldoze the place and leave it to the birds and the
      turtles, and I don't agree with that," he said.

      Mr. Hoggard of the Park Service said he would not consign even Fort
      Pickens to that fate. But, he said, it is time to consider replacing
      the road, possibly, for example, with a ferry service from the
      mainland. But, as is the case on all the developed shoreline,
      abandoning infrastructure means lost revenue, in this case fees from
      a year-round campground. So Mr. Hoggard said there would be pressure
      to maintain the road, flooded yet again by pounding surf churned up
      by Hurricane Rita. "We can do that with our technology," he
      said. "But only for so long, and at a great price."

      http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/04/science/04coast.html

      http://tinyurl.com/a2k2c

      j2997
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fuelcell-energy/

      Pat N
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