Task force: Coasts should prepare for rising seas

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 19, 2013 at 12:09 pm •  Published: August 19, 2013
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It said the government should find ways to encourage the private sector to develop fuel distribution and telecommunications systems that are less likely to be crippled by extended power outages. After Sandy, drivers in New York and New Jersey had problems finding gas stations that still had fuel because of a series of problems that rippled through the distribution system. Cellphone networks were snuffed out in some areas because of equipment that lacked adequate battery power, or other backup electrical supplies.

A large section of the report dealt with how federal authorities should respond once a storm has struck.

Among the recommendations:

— Federal agencies should streamline their review processes for reconstruction projects related to Sandy. It said that if standard government permitting timelines are applied, some rebuilding projects might have to undergo redundant reviews by multiple agencies and could be held up as long as four years. Some of those reviews will be consolidated to save time and money, the task force said.

— The Small Business Administration's disaster loan program, which gave $3.8 billion in low-interest loans to storm victims, performed better than it did during Hurricane Katrina but should be tweaked further.

— Federal mortgage policies should be revised so homeowners can get insurance checks faster.

On one vital issue related to insurance, the task force had no easy solution.

It noted that because of reforms to the financially distressed National Flood Insurance Program that began before the storm, many thousands of people who live in low-lying areas will likely see huge premium increases if they don't lift their homes up on pilings. The task force said that for many homeowners, both options are unaffordable. It recommended further study of that dilemma.

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Associated Press writer Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report.



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