While we at New Jersey Future are disappointed in the small size of the award to New Jersey from the National Disaster Resilience Competition, we are pleased that the $15 million in funding that the state has been awarded is designated specifically to undertake comprehensive planning on a regional basis to address increased flooding risk. The award is particularly significant because, up to this point, state policies have not addressed the need for either forward-looking risk evaluations or for meaningful regional coordination in planning for those risks.

Over the three years since Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey Future has advocated strongly for the kind of forward-looking evaluations of flood and inundation risk linked to sea-level rise that this award will make possible. New Jersey Future has piloted individual town-based assessments in the six coastal towns of Highlands, Sea Bright, Tuckerton, Little Egg Harbor, Commercial and Maurice River, and is working with the state Department of Environmental Protection on a complementary project.These evaluations are a critical tool for communities to use as a basis for planning their response to future storm events.

However, coordinating a response to flood risk along New Jersey's coast is difficult in part because individual municipalities are entirely unequipped to address these impacts on their own. Flood inundation and storm damage are not constrained by municipal boundaries, but rather are issues that demand a coordinated, regional and state level response. This funding, and the mandate for its use, will make such coordination significantly easier.

New Jersey Future looks forward to advancing the work that we've already completed and coordinating with the state and other partners to integrate it into a regional risk assessment and mitigation plan. We also hope that these efforts lead to a realignment of state policies so that they foster and support the development of cost-effective long-term coastal resiliency strategies.

 

David Kutner
New Jersey Future