EPA Grants for Hurricane Sandy Relief

Grants to NJ and NY Use Band-Aid Approach

Published May 2, 2013

WASHINGTON (May 2, 2013) – The Environmental Protection Agency today will announce grants to New Jersey and New York to help communities recover from the damage Superstorm Sandy caused last year, though assistance for broader protections against similar events in the future remains lacking.

“New York City and New Jersey communities are getting some welcome relief today, but handing out grants is slapping a Band-Aid on a much larger problem,” said Angela Anderson, director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). “Local leaders are courageously guiding their communities through recovery and urging us all to be better prepared in the future.”

Last month, UCS convened a meeting in New York City of city and county officials up and down the East Coast to discuss Sandy's consequences and how to best protect communities from sea level rise. Representatives from fourteen municipalities participated in the meeting.

“Local officials are considering a range of options for protecting their coastlines, but doing so is not a cheap endeavor,” said Anderson, noting that Congress provides no funding for communities to adapt to sea level rise and other climate change impacts.

“Handing out grants on a piecemeal approach is not the long-term answer,” said Anderson. “The federal government needs a nationwide plan to provide funds to all coastal communities, not just the ones hit hard by Sandy, to adapt to the changes global warming is bringing.”

The damage caused by Sandy was made much worse by sea level rise and an extreme high tide, resulting in record flooding. The storm surge reached much further inland than it would have otherwise, had sea levels not risen by about a foot along the New Jersey and New York coastline over the last century.

“Last year it was New York City and New Jersey’s turn to get hit. This year, who know which communities may get pummeled,” said Anderson.

The county also needs a plan to address the root cause of sea level rise and extreme weather events, she pointed out. “Until that happens, the goalpost -- of what local communities have to adapt to – will keep moving.”