Federal task force views recovery from Sandy
SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. —
President Barack Obama's task force on Superstorm Sandy toured South Kingstown, East Matunuck Beach and Westerly on Monday to see how communities have been recovering since last October's storm.
The state's congressional delegation and local officials hosted the task force's visit. The panel is identifying what is needed to improve public infrastructure systems that remain susceptible to storm damage.
In South Kingstown, officials plan on building a seawall.
"There's going to be a need for it, or we're going to lose the road," said South Kingstown Town Manager Stephen Alfred. "If we don't have a wall in place now, and we pierce the road, the water pipe at Barrier Beach, we're concerned about also runs under the road. So that's a 12-inch line that would be destroyed."
Josh Sawislak of the President's task force said he was in Rhode Island to listen and take back to Washington the real needs of the community.
"We see planning as a very local responsibility," he said.
About $95 million has been appropriated to Rhode Island for cleanup and repair, but it's not all about the money.
"We want to make sure these projects get priority. Very often it's not so much the funding as the timing, and the regulatory delay," said U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.
Don Tatro lives off Matunuck Beach Road, an area hit hard by Sandy. He said he'd like to see long-term solutions sooner rather than later.
"The politicians, now that they've been here to see what's going on, maybe they'll give the little guy a chance here. We don't want to lose what we have here either," Tatro said.
Acting now, to preserve a way of life for years to come.
"Tourism is huge to South Kingstown and all of South County. And once it washes away, we can't have it back so we need to protect it," said Carol Hagan McEntee of the South Kingstown Town Council.