Sunday, November 4, 2012

This Land Is 1% Land Or How Hurricane Sandy Took Back Her Beach.

I live in Ocean County, New Jersey. About 20 minutes from Long Beach Island. It may be months before residents can return there. They shut down the gas line. There is no power. Authorities don't know when they will be able to restore it. There has been a lot of coverage on this tragedy. Many people lost everything.
Here's an article from The Atlantic City Press, specifically about my town. Nothing could prepare Tuckerton Beach residents to see the devastation, one says - Ocean County News
The devastation IS unbelievable. The Press interviewed one home owner from Old Tappan, Bergen County. There is another homeowner, from Wycoff, Bergen County. The point I want to make is these are people's second homes. They watched the hurricane from safer places in Northern New Jersey. They were not evacuated, unlike the people in this community who live here and that is the only home they have, or had. In the article, it stated that people with these summer homes will rebuild, if FEMA gives them the money. Also many of them had no flood insurance. Building houses on the water can be costly in so many ways.

If you go to Long Beach Island, you will see signs like this. These signs are not legally enforceable, but a lot of the people who have summer homes on LBI, want to keep the Riff Raff, off "their" beach. The irony is that they can't even get onto the island now.
No amount of their hedge fund money is going to change that fact.
Barbara Ehrenreich wrote an excellent book, "This Land Is Their Land" which explains the inequality that is New Jersey. "If a place is truly beautiful, you can't afford to be there." You pretty much can't if you are an hourly employee from the middle or lower class or a fisherman trying to eke out a living in Barnegat Bay. Why?
 Because New Jersey has the highest tax rate in the country, it is double the national average. This land will not belong to you and me. We won't be able to afford it. There are many people who live on LBI and in my community who are just plain hard working people who live in poverty thanks to Walmart wages.
 The Tea Party is big here, as you can imagine with the tax situation being what it is.
It is going to be interesting to see who is going to be able to rebuild in New Jersey.
Is anyone going to ask how we should rebuild? Is it really a good idea to be building houses on barrier islands or right on the water and then wonder why everything has been swept away? Will there even be a conversation about green technology? I live 18 miles away from Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant. This ancient behemoth was designed by the same engineers that built Fukishima. It is the oldest nuclear power plant in the country. It is scheduled to shut down with in the next 10 years. As far as I know, there's no plan to do anything to replace that source of energy. We need to be a lot smarter about how this is going to be done and how affordable it will be.
I have been told that FEMA trailers will be available, for 500 residents that are still at the local high school. They have no winter home in Florida to go to or a mansion in North Jersey. When people start crying about losing their summer home, I don't have any pity. I wonder if they will even think of the waitress who served them dinner on a balmy summer evening, or the cashier at the store where they purchased their beach toys? The people who lost the only home they had. These are the people the 1% don't want on "their" beach, I think Sandy just took "their" beach back.


  1. Good closing line. I hope you're doing OK.

  2. Thank you for asking Kirk, I am one of the lucky ones. But the devastation is every where. All I can do is listen to some of the heartbreaking stories and hug these people. It is so sad. I don't know what lessons we will learn about climate change, about modernizing our power grid and burying electric lines maybe we need to build dykes like they do in the Netherlands.
    In the meantime it will take years to rebuild.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I feel the same way about people with Save Lake Tahoe license plates, it belongs to the 1% and we peons can only see the lake from a distance; private beaches abound. While the lake continues to fill up with the run off from their fertilized golf courses and expansive lawns, they want public money to "save" the lake. I worked up there for a year and joked that they should send all the water to Las Vegas and pave it over and build condos. It didn't go over well with the "locals". Unfortunately, there will probably never be a Sandy there, just slowly sludging of the once clear water from the rich people's effluence.

  5. Jim,actually in Barbara's book, she did write about Lake Tahoe and those same issues.