"On Ravaged Coastline, It’s Rebuild Deliberately vs. Rebuild Now"

"As moldy drywall thudded to the curb in a depressing drumbeat throughout Breezy Point, Queens, Thomas Ryan’s reciprocating saw stood out like a growling declaration of impatience."

"His neighbors were still ripping out debris. But Mr. Ryan, a retired bricklayer who built his house by hand 30 years ago only to lose most of it to Hurricane Sandy, was already hard at work rebuilding. He knew that officials from the city, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Breezy Point cooperative were still negotiating over new building standards, revisions that could force him to tear apart the windows and doors he was installing to add expensive new safeguards against another onslaught from the ocean. But he would not, he could not, sit around.

“How long can I wait?” Mr. Ryan said. “I’ve got to get back here and live.”

The big thinkers have emerged in force since Hurricane Sandy. Environmentalists and academics call for a retreat from rising tides and vulnerable seashores. FEMA pores over flood photos, redefining the areas of highest risk. And city engineers and lawyers revisit building and zoning codes. All hope to ensure that whatever rises from the debris can survive future assaults by extreme weather."

David M. Halbfinger, Charles V. Bagli and Sarah Maslin Nir report for the New York Times December 21, 2012.

Source: NY Times, 12/24/2012