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Monday, November 19. 2012
By the time Sandy hit the northest coastline, she was no longer a hurricane. She had degraded into a husky Nor'easter, but, with the coincidence of a full moon, her storm surge was well above that of the ordinary Nor'easter. Not a "megastorm" as the news hyped it.
I knew that just by taking a walk outside on that Monday evening. Blustery, but not hurricane-blustery. In the northeast, we are accustomed to the inconveniences of powerful Nor'easters. Trees fall down. The sea surges over the beach. Not unusual.
However dramatic and destructive Sandy was, she was nothing like other storms of the past century. What has changed is not storms (we've had far fewer in recent decades). What has changed is coastal development in historic flood zones in the densely-populated northeasern US.
It's a bad idea, and should never have been subsidized by the federal government. It's the same stupidity on the gulf coast. Free market flood insurance would have largely prevented most of the damage because people would not have built things in flood zones. Subsidized flood insurance had the predictable unintended consequence of promoting development of flood zones. A perverse incentive. Flood zones should be for animals, not for peoples' houses.
John Hinderaker has an interesting take on the politics of Sandy.
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I live in a flood plain and per the conditions of my federally insured mortgage am compelled to buy flood insurance. It is for a concrete block building with a steel reinforced poured concrete roof. The insurance doesn't cover contents and has the highest deductible allowed - my home could be inundated, completely, and when the water receded, it would only need power washing to remove the mud and ruined contents and it would be habitable again. Banks will not write mortgages for any other kind of structure here. Flood insurance had no role in the original construction of the building (1990).
The premium for flood insurance to cover the replacement cost of the building was running $4,200 per year. Additionally the bank insists one buy hazard insurance, which is $1,800 per year with a very high deductible.
A new agent with a more aggressive posture regarding giving what the owner wants and the minimum required by the conditions of the mortgage was found. This provided an opportunity to interact with the FEMA Flood Insurance people in DC. Their level of rudeness, arrogance, and general "I don't care and you can't touch me" attitude is the fecal standard for government service.
Next - establishment of flood zones - this is done by consultants. The new revised maps show water over the dwelling by about 15 ft where the old maps show it marginally in the inundation zone. We had a 100 year event in 2002 - no water in the house. The burden of challenging the study is beyond what any individual can achieve, even one with some expertise in hydrology.
Bottom line opinion/experience - this is a government mandated insurance market that seeks to sweep as many participants in as possible. It doesn't affect actual building - investment money drives that. It's a cash cow for the agents who make it extraordinarily difficult to change agents and the ladies at FEMA are beyond obstructionist when you do try to get a better deal.
This might be the model that the ACA will follow. Everyone must have it. It will be expensive. There will be some payouts from the pool, (Katrina would be the allegorical example), but most don't need it and should attend to their own risks in a free market place of insurance. Welcome everyone to my government mandated insurance world.
My apologies for the length of this post.
We shall see if Bloomberg and others truly believe that climate change is driving these events. If so, then they should support not rebuilding but the transition of the inundated zone to a buffer park. For if it was caused by climate change, then the storms by their own prediction will become more frequent and more severe.
"superstorm" = man-made global warming is real
"category 1 hurricane" = big yawner
That may well be true, but don't tell me that I was too close to the shoreline. I live three and a half or four hour drive from the coast and had extensive property damage from Sandy. This was a nine hundred mile wide storm, which was what made it both rare and destructive.
In New Jersey, 50 miles inland was absolutely crushed by this storm. Our Red Oak and Pine tree populations were devastated.
I can speak to Somerset and Hunterdon counties which lost thousands upon thousands of mature trees.
I've lived in Jersey for 52 years both on the coast and inland and I never... NEVER... saw anything like that storm and I'm I solid 45 miles from the coast.
I'd argue that Sandy was the most destructive. I guess you don't recall the massive power outages from ICE a few years back.
And as for HuntCo & Somerset, they were not damaged one bit by the storm. They were damaged by Shade Tree Commissions, DEP whacko's and every environmentalist who SCREAMED when JCP & L tried to do a line clear project.
"Oh, our twees, our pwetty pwetty twees!!! You cannot cut them........."
And last but not least, Christie is a TRAITOR. I hope his hug from Bruce was worht the Country's future.
"Christie is a TRAITOR"
I'll second that. I really do like the guy; but, his giving Obama a "tour" and brown-nosing him down the shore was too much for me.
Christie could have and should have told Obama that he was simply too busy for photo ops. period.
The Democrats will have to nominate someone really bad in order for me to vote for Christie again.
I remember very well. This storm damage was much worse. Many woodlots were severely harmed by the storm.
BTW, Christy did what was right, not what was politically expedient.
We are eligible for flood insurance here, and we do buy it. But as we are at only 17 feet of elevation, we also built the house up on ten-foot stilts. I don't ever confuse "insurance" with "protection."
On a related note:
Interstate 287 in NJ has a weigh station. For those who don't know, a weigh station is for all trucks to be stopped and their weight checked to make sure they are not over the weight limit. They face huge fines if they are. When the weigh station is open - all trucks MUST stop to be inspected.
Recently, however, this weigh station was open "for waste haulers only."
One can see convoys of waste haulers along Route 287, and, the fact that the weigh station is open "for waste haulers only" tells us that they are so concerned about the amount of rubbish being hauled along the highway that they are letting other trucks slip by. (yea, I can see some waste haulers trying to cheat and carry more weight than they should - that is a concern)
This says a lot about the amount of rubbish being hauled from the North Jersey shore and Staten Island.
You may have never seen anything like this storm but in geological time this is a common occurrence. The entire Atlantic coast was formed by storm like this, The barrier islands, the sandy hooks, the large bays and the flood plains that homes are built on which are little more then swamps. A storm like this may indeed not happen again in your lifetime but make no mistake it will happen again and homes built on the shore or in reclaimed swamps will once again be destroyed. Don't waste your time being angry at mother nature for the storm you should be angry at your state and city for allowing homes to be built in flood plains and filled in swamps.