In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, will we recognize how imprudent we have been about where we build and how we build, especially knowing that climate change is likely to increase the frequency and intensity of destructive natural events at the ocean’s edge?
Hurricane Sandy brought tragic, costly devastation to barrier islands and coastal portions of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, and to a lesser extent the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. Countless homes, apartment buildings, hotels, retail businesses and infrastructure were damaged or destroyed. Shorelines and beaches were shifted.
Yet despite this, have we understood — and will we take actions to mitigate or avoid — the perilous consequences of continuing risky real estate behavior?
Almost every property-owning hurricane victim interviewed since Sandy struck has vowed to rebuild. Psychologically, this is understandable. To be near and, better yet, to abut and overlook the ocean has great aesthetic appeal. Seasides have long been among the most favored places for vacations and diverse forms of recreation. The economic value of most oceanfront property is typically much higher than property inland.