Hurricane Sandy showed us that our coastal communities are vulnerable to flooding. And, as we saw last fall, the storm also dealt a devastating blow to the transportation system in the Northeast. Flood damage to infrastructure caused travel delays for our airport, transit, passenger rail and bus systems.
At the Amtrak electrical substation I visited yesterday with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, major flooding caused the station to lose power. That power failure affected both Amtrak and New Jersey Transit--as well as the many travelers and commuters who depend on those important systems.
Secretary Donovan, Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari, and I were in New Jersey yesterday to discuss new standards from the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force to help ensure that flood damage from future storms won't have the same impact.
The new building elevation standards mean that any structure more than half destroyed by Sandy--and being rebuilt with federal funds--must be lifted higher than before. Building owners seeking federal support will consult an updated FEMA flood map, find the new recommended height for their structure, and raise it a foot above that.
Transportation stakeholders in the region understand that the federal investment in rebuilding should be used to help prevent the kind of infrastructure damage and delays we experienced after Sandy.
That starts by rebuilding in a stronger and smarter way—so that storms like Sandy don’t devastate families, businesses, and critical transportation systems.
Rather than spending good money rebuilding the same critical transportation infrastructure time and time again, we’re going to build to a more resilient standard. We don't want people to go through the same heartache and headache and backache.
This will save money over the long term and protect our valuable transportation infrastructure against future natural disasters. When we must rebuild, we should rebuild to last.