Disaster prevention, relief requires working together
Mar 27, 2013 | 1602 views | 1 1 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

To the Editor:
Four months after Sandy, there is no shortage of proposed solutions to finance and rebuild the massive damage along New Jersey’s coastline. Governor Chris Christie and other leaders are supporting buyouts of entire neighborhoods that want to relocate. A recent joint Assembly-State hearing has included a proposal to increase the governor’s contingency fund for expenses not covered by FEMA from $40 million to $100 million. Leaders of badly flooded areas are recommending permanently raising specific buildings or, potentially, the entire town.

While municipal government agencies in cities up and down New Jersey wait for recovery money to flow, they should also prioritize development of comprehensive recovery plans – to have at the ready – which can set the stage for a swift and efficient response, reduce the cost to build, ease human suffering and minimize the aftereffects of a future natural disaster.

Post-Sandy and pre-future disaster planning can ensure that ravaged communities quickly regain essential functionality and receive the full funding to which they’re entitled. Because disasters vary in size, scope and type, cities should continuously identify potential threats and develop plans based on those public and private assets they most need to protect, both to minimize impact and to expeditiously restore infrastructure and services. Effective planning requires collaboration between federal, state and local government agencies and specialized local knowledge from the private sector. Government agencies can benefit from working with private sector engineers, public works experts, economists and other infrastructure experts who know the communities and have established relationships that allow them to quickly assess areas of risk and develop a customized recovery and rebuilding plan scope.

Our economy and way of life depend on a strong, resilient public and private infrastructure that can rebound quickly from the ravages of disasters. All resources must be brought to bear to accomplish this critical effort in the public interest. Based on post-Hurricane Ike and Katrina work, there is an important role for consultants who possess experience and specialized knowledge in managing, administering and maximizing cost recovery from FEMA, the Federal Highway Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other federal agencies. These federal entities do not guarantee project funding, despite the total dollars approved by Congress. Instead, after the work has been completed, they review how resources have been expended and decide, based on certain guidelines, reimbursement amounts to communities.

In New Jersey, it’s important to engage qualified, experienced recovery and building professionals to bridge gaps between agencies and directly collaborate with state and local officials managing Sandy-related programs. This can increase the chances for communities to receive timely, full and maximum reimbursements by coordinating dialogue between agencies; soliciting input from stakeholders and residents; identifying policies and procedures that may positively affect communities’ recovery efforts; and determining roles and responsibilities to guide implementation of a holistic disaster response plan.

Recent history shows that incorporating planning into recovery efforts provides long-term benefit to disaster-stricken regions. The cities and states that have engaged in inclusive, collaborative planning beforehand will have established processes for government and the private sector to work together to address the complexities of disaster response and redevelopment. While recovery may never be as fast as those affected would want it to be, having a plan that includes private sector expertise can certainly help streamline and strengthen the results.

MIKE SWEENEY

Senior Vice President

District Leader

HNTB Corporation
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JanM
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April 15, 2013
We Must See the Climate Reality

Since the 1930s scientists had begun questioning whether man's behavior post Industrial Revolution had amplified the natural carbon cycle and atmospheric composition of our planet. Thousands of peer reviewed papers have been published with over 98% of climate scientists publishing stating and agreeing that humans are changing the face of the Earth and pushing the natural processes of the planet to a place beyond their natural ability to sustain us. Hurricane Sandy which hit us here only 159 days ago is testament to these radical changes we are precipitating by our actions.

Man is changing the face of Earth through agriculture, deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels putting 90 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere daily. This is real and it is effecting the globe particularly in the Arctic where warming due to these emissions has been twice as fast as anywhere on the globe and is now being linked to the “weird weather” and extreme events that have been taking place including Hurricane Sandy and the extended extreme drought in the Midwest. This in turn is jeopardizing our ability to farm, to maintain adequate and healthy water sources and to maintain health due to more frequent and destructive droughts, deluges and storms.

The good news of it all is that we still have time to address it. If you wish to learn more about how you can help do that and to connect the scientific dots between extreme weather and dirty energy and how it effects your life you can request a presentation for your church or organization with me through The Climate Reality Project. The Climate Reality Project is chaired by former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore and educates about the truth and reality of the climate crisis to inspire moral courage and action. Reality is making it clear to us now that we need both courage and action in order to secure a habitable planet for us and our children.



Jan Moore

Climate Leader

The Climate Reality Project

http://climaterealityproject.org/