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In Superstorm's wake: Erosion and questions on government-funded sand

Hurricane Sandy caused major erosion along the New Jersey coastline, slimming beaches significantly. Some question the wisdom of using federal funding to build up beaches that just get washed away.

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"Taxpayers are not surprised when they learn how Congress wastes billions of dollars on questionable programs and projects each year, but it may still shock taxpayers to know that Congress has literally dumped nearly $3 billion into beach projects that have washed out to sea," he wrote.

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A message seeking comment was left Monday with Coburn's office.

Menendez this week noted that Congress has approved emergency recovery funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina and tornadoes in Missouri, among other natural disasters.

"We expect that the United States of America will be there for New Jersey," he said, stressing the word "united."

During a tour of storm-wrecked neighborhoods in Seaside Heights and Hoboken, Vice President Joe Biden also vowed the federal government would pay to rebuild New Jersey.

"This is a national responsibility; this is not a local responsibility," Biden said. "We're one national government, and we have an obligation."

Farrell and others have been documenting post-Sandy erosion; so far, they're about three-quarters finished with the study, an early version of which has been sent to Gov. Chris Christie's office but not made public.

Farrell told the AP that the survey found the average beach's sand loss was 30 to 40 feet. But some lost five times that amount. Mantoloking, one of the hardest-hit communities, lost 150 feet of beach, he said.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection declined to discuss the extent of beach erosion after Sandy, saying assessments are still ongoing.

But the U.S. Geological Survey said Sandy caused "extreme and often catastrophic erosion" and flooding in places like Mantoloking. The group's before-and-after photos show that a part of Long Branch appears to have lost three-quarters of its beach. Seaside Heights — where MTV's popular reality show "Jersey Shore" is filmed — looks to have lost about 80 percent of its sand, and Brigantine about 90 percent.

"Sandy rapidly displaced massive quantities of sand in a capacity that visibly changed the landscape," the survey wrote in a report.

In contrast, places with recently beefed-up beaches including Avalon, Stone Harbor, Cape May and the central part of Ocean City came through the storm with comparatively little property damage, he said.

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