Although Superstorm Sandy wreaked widespread havoc on the Jersey Shore, the victims and communities have pulled together in an effort to rebuild their lives, homes and towns, Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) told members of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works today. Smith also called attention to work the Army Corps of Engineers’ beach protection projects that held up well during the storm.
“The courage, tenacity and resiliency of the victims has been amazing,” said Smith, who represents large sections of Monmouth and Ocean Counties where the immense storm made landfall. “The stories of neighbors helping neighbors with breathtaking kindness by providing shelter, food and warm, dry clothing are almost without number. People are at once heartbroken, devastated and still appreciative of the help they are getting and what they have left. A resident of Belmar told me the day after Sandy demolished his home: “I’ve lost everything, but I am alive.”
Smith said special note and appreciation need be given the Corps of Engineers which has spent years working on beach re-nourishment projects, some of which are bogged down due to lack of funding.
“We know that in most areas where the Army Corps of Engineers implemented beach re-nourishment projects, there was less damage than those where they did not,” Smith said. “Where the Corps built higher berms, they held back the water. Where there were low dunes, the water came flooding in.
“Preventing flooded homes and businesses is cheaper and more efficient than repairing them after a water breach,” Smith said. “As such, it is necessary, cost-effective and justified for the federal government to provide the Corps with emergency funding to finish beach replenishment and flood protection projects.”
The Corps is poised to finish a number of projects if it has the funding through an emergency supplemental request. Representatives from the Northeast have asked President Obama to direct his Office of Management and Budget to issue an emergency supplemental request. Smith said that funding to complete already-authorized projects should be included.
“The partnership between federal, state and local governments has served our community well in the aftermath of the storm and we must bolster these efforts moving forward—both to make New Jersey residents whole and to limit future damage. Fully funding the Corps’ projects is a priority of mine and will assist our state as we recover, repair and rebuild,” Smith said. “It’s a long road, but we are committed to bringing back—and with your help we will bring back—these communities.”
Dredging Today Staff, December 3, 2012; Image: usace