N.J. Beaches 50 Percent Smaller After Hurricane Sandy: Should They Rebuild?

By Amir Khan on November 20, 2012 11:57 AM EST

Hurricane Sandy
N.J. beaches may never be the same after the effects of the devastating Hurricane Sandy. (Photo: REUTERS)

N.J. beaches may never be the same after the effects of the devastating Hurricane Sandy. According to recent reports, Hurricane Sandy eroded up to 50 percent of N.J. beaches, and it's causing a debate as to whether federal funds should be used to rebuild the N.J. beaches.

Some N.J. beaches narrowed 30 to 40 feet because of Hurricane Sandy, and one N.J. town, Mantoloking, lost 150 feet of beach, according to NBC New York. Many N.J. beaches are eroded from typical storms, but the sheer force of Hurricane Sandy made the erosion much worse than normal.

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In order to repair N.J. beaches, trucks of sand are typically brought in to replace what was lost. In N.J. towns that had recently increased the amount of sand they had on their beaches took less damage from Hurricane Sandy.

"It really, really works," Stewart Farrell, director of Stockton College's Coastal Research Center, told the Associated Press. "Where there was a federal beach fill in place, there was no major damage - no homes destroyed, no sand piles in the streets. Where there was no beach fill, water broke through the dunes."

The N.J. beach replenishing project is controversial, however, as the federal government pays for 65 percent of the cost. In addition, the sheer cost has some people wondering if the N.J. beach replenishing program is worth it, as $700 million was spent between 1986 and 2011.

"Taxpayers are not surprised when they learn how Congress wastes billions of dollars on questionable programs and projects each year, but it may still shock taxpayers to know that Congress has literally dumped nearly $3 billion into beach projects that have washed out to sea," U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, wrote in a 2009 report.

However, Vice President Joe Biden recently committed to the rebuilding project during a tour of the devastated N.J. beaches.

"This is a national responsibility; this is not a local responsibility," he said. "We're one national government, and we have an obligation."

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