Scott and Rubio Slam USACE For Slowness Ahead of Hurricane Ian

Scott and Rubio Slam USACE For Slowness Ahead of Hurricane Ian

Grayson Bakich
Grayson Bakich
April 21, 2023

Fort Myers and surrounding areas were hit hard by Hurricane Ian in 2022. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) had scaled back on a hurricane risk reduction project authorized by the federal government. Senators Rick Scott (R) and Marco Rubio (R) have written a letter demanding the project move forward to prevent further damage in the event of another hurricane.

For context, the letter details how projects are authorized. Essentially, if a hurricane reduction plan fulfills public interest requirements, including a feasibility examination, and a cost-benefit analysis and the chosen area is publicly accessible, the project is given the green light.

Despite this, the USACE has interpreted part of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) to mean federal projects must have a local sponsor "to secure perpetual easements from all upland private property owners within an authorized project’s footprint before that project can commence, even in cases when access to a property is not necessary," to quote the letter.

In other words, a federally-authorized project in an area cannot begin until the owners of private property in the area, through a local sponsor, approve, even if the project will not intrude onto someone's property.

The USACE seem to base this delay on a policy prohibiting sand nourishments for the exclusive benefit of private interests. Sens. Scott and Rubio say this interpretation "has obstructed desperately needed hurricane risk reduction and CSRM projects in Florida and across the country," if not stopped projects entirely.

Moreover, this delay has "no logical justification."

Scott and Rubio lambast the USACE for delaying the hurricane risk reduction project in Fort Myers ahead of Hurricane Ian, which was responsible for "killing dozens and causing billions of dollars in damage."

"I was saddened to learn that the scope of the federally-authorized hurricane risk reduction project for Fort Myers Beach, Florida, one of the communities most severely affected by Hurricane Ian, was severely reduced by the USACE due to the imposition of this burdensome easement policy.  Hurricane Ian’s storm surge destroyed public and private properties and infrastructure along Fort Myers Beach, killing dozens and causing billions of dollars in damage.  A properly-implemented hurricane risk reduction project could have helped to prevent loss of life and destruction," the letter said.

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Grayson Bakich

Grayson Bakich

Florida born and raised, Grayson Bakich is a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Central Florida. His thesis examined recent trends in political polarization and how this leads into justification of violence.

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