The hard truths, conflicting factors, and tight money — painful recovery decisions ahead

This WSJ article, dated Nov. 17, captures some of the harsh realities of the long-term recovery process: The Future Question for Storm Victims: Can the Past Be Rebuilt?  Some excerpts:

“I promised to everybody that I was speaking on behalf of the country when I said we are going to be here until the rebuilding is complete, and I meant it,” President Barack Obama said Thursday during a visit to New York City’s battered Staten Island.

But with the federal budget deep in the red and government flood insurance still straining to recover from Hurricane Katrina, Sea Bright and other coastal towns face questions over not just how to rebuild in a way that defends lives and property against surging sea levels and more intense storms, but whether to rebuild at all.

Sandy’s destructive path has united an unlikely coalition of free-market think tanks, environmentalists, business owners and insurers arguing the moral hazard of rebuilding in coastal zones that might best be returned to nature.

“It’s very difficult to get beyond the sympathy factor,” said Orrin Pilkey, a coastal geologist at Duke University. “But it works against us.” He said he knows the issue firsthand: Hurricane Camille in 1969 damaged his parents’ Mississippi home. Hurricane Katrina later obliterated it.

“We are subsidizing, even encouraging, very dangerous development,” he said. “It’s amoral, really, that our government continues to blindly and stupidly do this.”

As noted earlier, the new federal lead person for recovery for the declared states is HUD Sec. Shaun Donovan. How he will do that job on top of his HUD job is beyond me. I wish him good luck.

General Honore ( of New Orleans fame) questions the recovery process. He says Recovery is “Stumbling,” Nov. 15, CNN.

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