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Superstorm Sandy Task Force Urges Coastal Towns To Plan Ahead

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Ten months after Superstorm Sandy destroyed several coastal communities, a presidential task force is releasing new recommendations to protect people and property.

Mary Bubala has more on the response from Maryland Emergency Management Agency leaders.

Superstorm Sandy goes down as the deadliest and most destructive storm of 2012's hurricane season.

Maryland was spared the brunt of the storm, but winds clocked in at more than 90 mph on the Bay Bridge.

Parts of Ocean City flooded, and streets in Easton turned into streams.

Now a new report from a presidential task force says coastal communities should assume floods are going to happen more frequently.

In an age of climate change and rising sea levels, it's something MEMA acknowledges and has been prepping for since Hurricane Isabel roared through Maryland 10 years ago.

"Knowing that climate change and sea level rise and increase storm surge could affect Marylanders, we want to get more work out doing mitigation projects before these things happen so we can be more resilient and better prepared," said Brendan McCluskey, MEMA director of preparedness.

The presidential task force on Superstorm Sandy issued 69 recommendations, including:

  • greater use of natural barriers such as wetlands and sand dunes
  • federal agencies should streamline the review process for reconstruction projects
  • mortgage policies should be revised so homeowners can get insurance checks faster
  • and the development of a more advanced electrical grid

"We still have work to do but we are working closely with them and through our other state partners to make sure that we can bounce back quickly when there's an emergency," McCluskey said.

The task force had no easy solution to the financially distressed national flood insurance program, and warns those who live in low-lying areas in Maryland and the Northeast will likely see a huge premium increases if they don't lift their homes up on pilings.

Superstorm Sandy is the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history with damage estimates over $68 billion.

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