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Hurricane Sandy Task Force Urges Better Construction

Source: USA Today

Posted on 20 Aug 2013 by Neilson

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Hurricane Sandy taskforce

A special task force created after Hurricane Sandy recommends that new construction be built to withstand the force of increasingly dangerous storms, and that existing infrastructure be hardened to ward off power failures and fuel shortages, and to maintain cellular service during disasters.

The report emphasized the impact of climate change on the intensity of hurricanes and other storms, and said that has to be taken into account with future building and rebuilding.

"More than ever," the report said, "it is critical that when we build for the future, we do so in a way that makes communities more resilient to emerging challenges such as rising sea levels, extreme heat, and more frequent and intense storms."

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, who chaired the task force, said Monday that the rebuilding strategy "will protect families, small businesses and communities across the region, and the taxpayers' investment in them, from the risks posed by sea level rise and more extreme weather events -- risks that are made worse by the reality of a changing climate."

President Obama said some of the report's 69 policy recommendations have already been adopted, especially on cleaning up the New Jersey and New York shores after the superstorm struck in late October, and helping rebuild homes and businesses.

"We have cut red tape, piloted cutting edge programs and strengthened our partnership with state and local officials," Obama said. "While a great amount of work remains, we will stand with the region for as long as it takes to recover."

The task force report also calls for more -- and more streamlined -- assistance for home and business owners who are wiped out by storms.

Obama created the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force in December.

Congress, after some wrangling, approved a $50.5 billion aid package in January for areas struck by Hurricane Sandy.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development said its goals include better alignment of federal funding with local rebuilding plans, and cutting red tape when it comes to delivering assistance to families, businesses and local governments.

The new strategy also calls for better coordination among federal, state and local governments, in part to insure that a region "is rebuilt in a way that makes it more resilient -- that is, better able to withstand future storms and other risks posed by a changing climate."

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the Sandy task force report shows that "we have much work to do hardening our energy, telecommunications and transportation infrastructure," and that "the federal government must be a proactive partner with local governments and the private sector."

Cars and homes in Normandy Beach, N.J., were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in fall 2012.