Vogel: The next mayor needs to prepare us for the next Sandy
On the day last week that Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a $20-billion plan to protect our shoreline against the ravages of climate change, my brother and I headed out to sunny Rockaway Beach.
Cruising by long stretches of missing boardwalk destroyed by superstorm Sandy, we found three beach entry-point "islands." Following some surfers down to one at Beach 86th Street, we came upon Chris Parachini, a co-owner of Rippers, the popular food stand there. He was overseeing last-minute reconstruction before opening full time for the summer.
The hard work put in by Parachini and other Rockaway Beach concession owners to get their businesses back up and running is impressive. Stands just a few blocks down from Rippers with less beach to protect them were hit much harder, but their owners are also determined to get their places open by the Fourth of July.
Part of the mayor's ambitious plan is to build sand dunes in the Rockaways, which Parachini was glad to hear. He is well aware that future Sandys are inevitable, as climate change brings unprecedented devastation to our city and nation. As Gov. Andrew Cuomo put it, "We have a 100-year flood every two years now."
Some believe the mayor's proposal is a substantial overreach, another example of government excess. This kind of twisted allegiance to a lack of meaningful government regulation is also seen in places like Oklahoma. That state has no building codes requiring underground shelters in homes or schools, despite its long history -- seen again so vividly this season -- of deadly tornadoes.
Even after natural disasters, some states refuse to take action to protect their citizens -- then come begging for federal help after tragedy strikes.
Luckily our governor, mayor and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie reside in the 21st century and don't play politics with our lives. But will our next mayor abandon Bloomberg's proposal?
Back at Rippers, Parachini hoped that wouldn't happen. "Not going through with this plan or something very similar would be criminally negligent," he said.
On our way home, we learned another major storm was sweeping across the nation. They will keep coming. Mayoral candidates, what say you?
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.