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For New Jersey, Rebuilding in Hurricane-Ravaged Area a Path Towards Disaster

Gov. Chris Christie wants to "get everything back to normal" but some fear it's an investment in future disaster

Common Dreams staff

"We’re going to work together to make sure we get ourselves through this crisis and get everything back to normal," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose state was pummeled by Hurricane Sandy, said on Wednesday.

But the sanity of resuming to "normal," including allowing homeowners and businesses to rebuild on areas that will likely be hit again, is being questioned by some, as the "superstorm" has underscored the costly impacts of climate change.

"We will get up and get this rebuilt," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said on Wednesday, six days before the election, as he and President Obama surveyed damage from the storm together.

"I don't believe in a state like ours, where the Jersey Shore is such a part of life, that you just pick up and walk away," he said.

Rebuilding property in the risky area is up to individuals, not the government, he said, despite or perhaps because the federal government can continue to provide disaster relief funds for the rebuilding. "People are going to have to make choices. . . . We've got to make hard choices. They've got to decide: Do they want to rebuild? Or do they want to move out? I still believe that's an individual choice. I don't think it's a governmental choice. I'm not condemning their property," said Christie.

But some residents of the storm-ravaged areas disagree with Christie, and see this storm as more evidence it's time to rebuild--elsewhere.  The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on Middlesex County resident Cody Buck's thoughts on the best course of action:

While showing Christie what was left of his home, Cody Buck expressed the wishes of many residents in saying that the neighborhood, after sustaining water damage in three storms in three years, should be turned into soccer fields.

"I think, Governor, we need to level the whole neighborhood, give everybody a check, and get out of here," he said.

Peter Kasabach, executive director of the planning advocacy group New Jersey Future, tells the Associated Press that investing in and recreating things as they were is a dangerous path.

"We've built in places that we shouldn't have built and now those places are becoming even more hazardous and more expensive to stay in," he said. "As we grow and develop, we should make sure we don't continue to invest in those places." 

photo: Aerial photo of New Jersey coastline in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy taken Oct. 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen)

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