Feature

The folly of rebuilding at the beach

&ldquo;Flood. Rebuild. Repeat.&rsquo;&rsquo; Should taxpayers pay for the rebuidling of homes on vulnerable beaches where they are likely to be wiped out by storms and hurricanes?, asked Rob Young and Orrin H. Pilkey in <em>U

Rob Young and Orrin H. PilkeyUSA Today

“Flood. Rebuild. Repeat.’’ That nonsensical cycle, said coastal scientists Rob Young and Orrin H. Pilkey, describes our national shoreline policy, through which federal taxpayer dollars are repeatedly squandered to rebuild communities stubbornly located where storms periodically wipe them out. Now, “it might make fiscal sense to repair our Houstons and our downtown Galvestons,’’ but beachside communities such as Surfside Beach, Texas; Grand Isle, La.; and Dauphin Island, Ala., are another matter. Homes there are built on vulnerable beaches, where the view is admittedly wonderful—but where no structure will ever be safe, especially now that global sea levels are steadily rising. Yet tens of millions of federal funds pour into these communities after every storm. Dauphin Island, for example, has been hit by seven hurricanes and tropical storms in recent decades and rebuilt each time. This year, hurricanes Gustav and Ike sucked all that expensive, taxpayer supported sand out to sea. At this point, anyone who chooses to rebuild there—or on other slivers of shifting sand—should stop demanding handouts when, inevitably, the next storm reduces their folly to piles of broken timber.

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