The drowning of money island A forgotten community's fight against the rising seas threatening coastal America

Andrew S. Lewis, 1982-

Book - 2019

"The Drowning of Money Island tells the story of a journalist's return to a hometown ravaged by Superstorm Sandy, where lack of recovery, sea level rise, and a state effort to buy out and demolish neighborhoods has fractured the community and foreshadowed coastal America's sinking future"--

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Subjects
Published
Boston : Beacon Press [2019]
Language
English
Physical Description
xv, 213 pages : maps ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 199-204) and index.
ISBN
9780807083581
0807083585
Main Author
Andrew S. Lewis, 1982- (author)
  • Part one: The storm. "Our American dream"
  • "Where poor people came to get away"
  • "Thus far, and no farther shalt thou go"
  • "The next least liked"
  • "We know not what a day may bring forth."
  • Part two: No retreat. "Drain the swamp."
  • "Hey man, that's cool."
  • "The window is getting smaller."
  • "Save the bay."
  • Part three: Resilience. "I know where it is and will always return."
  • "Aren't we a part of this?"
  • "Tree City USA"
  • "I'm just a dumb fisherman."
  • "I think it's the bugs."
  • "We have gobs of plans."
  • "This view, we shall see, persists."
  • "Build your wings on the way down."
Review by Booklist Reviews

Superstorm Sandy carved a path of destruction in the mid-Atlantic U.S. in October 2012. A large swath of Sandy's devastation ran through New Jersey, with coastal regions getting especially hard hit. Rural Cumberland County, in the southern part of the state, had long experienced erosion from past hurricanes and nor'easters, and the damage left in Sandy's wake left residents with ever more dwindling options. In particular, Sandy made conditions drastically worse in Money Island, a sparsely populated Cumberland community that had already faced erosion and other issues related to climate change for years. After the superstorm, government bureaucracy and a general favoring of wealthier areas of the state left Money Island residents fuming and destitute. New Jersey coast native Lewis provides valuable perspective, utilizing his own experiences growing up in the area to relate to how the current residents feel. While by no means a one-sided polemic on doomsday scenarios, this excellent read does serve as a clarion call for those who question climate change. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Ravaged by storms and neglected by government officials who are more intent instead on focusing taxpayer dollars on the more lucrative Jersey Shore communities, the community of Bayshore is in crisis. Journalist Lewis looks at the devastating consequences of climate change on the towns comprising the Bayshore area at the southern end of New Jersey, bordered by the Delaware Bay. As a native of this area, Lewis is acquainted with the ethos of its residents: resilient, rural, and hardworking. Previous storms had interrupted life for community members, but Superstorm Sandy drastically altered the region's landscape. This narrative is told primarily through the voices of two community members determined to preserve their property, even under mounting pressure to sell out to the Blue Acres Superstorm Sandy Program, an initiative to remove people from chronically flood-prone areas. The well-rounded narrative takes into account all the factors influencing their lives, from politics to environmental factors and the bonds people have with their land. VERDICT A cautionary tale to add to the corpus of environmental nonfiction, this book humanizes the experience in ways that others have not.—Diana Hartle, Univ. of Georgia Science Lib., Athens Copyright 2019 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Lewis, a journalist and former resident of South Jersey's Bayshore region, chronicles locals' struggles to recover homes and livelihoods following Hurricane Sandy and in the face of climate change. When Sandy hit the New Jersey coast, Lewis, then living in California, jumped on a plane to "cover the recovery," arriving on the devastated Money Island just days after Sandy's landfall. Discovering further environmental threats apart from Sandy, including rising sea and sinking land levels, Lewis pinpoints what he calls the Bayshore's primary existential conundrum—"would the place crawl back from the brink of extinction on the backs of the ... or would its revival come from conservationists?" He also questions the unequal levels of financial aid, favoring wealthier Jersey Shore regions, provided after the storm. Lewis's narrative transitions—among childhood memories, 2012–2013 relief efforts, and present-day stories—can be choppy and even confusing. Still, he exhibits a dogged determination to tell the complete story, interviewing politicians, visiting local board meetings, and sharing often heartbreaking stories of residents who remain despite losing "their American dream." Lewis's thoughtful, probing study is most adept at distilling the complexities of post-Sandy recovery, posing the question: "Why one group of people and the land they lived upon not as important as another?" (Oct.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Lewis, a journalist and former resident of South Jersey's Bayshore region, chronicles locals' struggles to recover homes and livelihoods following Hurricane Sandy and in the face of climate change. When Sandy hit the New Jersey coast, Lewis, then living in California, jumped on a plane to "cover the recovery," arriving on the devastated Money Island just days after Sandy's landfall. Discovering further environmental threats apart from Sandy, including rising sea and sinking land levels, Lewis pinpoints what he calls the Bayshore's primary existential conundrum—"would the place crawl back from the brink of extinction on the backs of the ... or would its revival come from conservationists?" He also questions the unequal levels of financial aid, favoring wealthier Jersey Shore regions, provided after the storm. Lewis's narrative transitions—among childhood memories, 2012–2013 relief efforts, and present-day stories—can be choppy and even confusing. Still, he exhibits a dogged determination to tell the complete story, interviewing politicians, visiting local board meetings, and sharing often heartbreaking stories of residents who remain despite losing "their American dream." Lewis's thoughtful, probing study is most adept at distilling the complexities of post-Sandy recovery, posing the question: "Why one group of people and the land they lived upon not as important as another?" (Oct.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"The Drowning of Money Island tells the story of a journalist's return to a hometown ravaged by Superstorm Sandy, where lack of recovery, sea level rise, and a state effort to buy out and demolish neighborhoods has fractured the community and foreshadowed coastal America's sinking future"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Reveals how limited resources, rising sea levels and a lack of government support fractured the rural town of Bayport after Hurricane Sandy, explaining how the Delaware Bay region portends a harrowing future for America’s coastal cities.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Offers a glimpse of the future of vanishing shorelines in America in the age of climate change, where the wealthy will be able to remain the longest while the poor will be forced to leave.Journalist Andrew Lewis chronicles the struggle of his New Jersey hometown to rebuild their ravaged homes in the face of the same environmental stresses and governmental neglect that are endangering coastal areas throughout the United States. Lewis grew up on the Bayshore, a 40-mile stretch of Delaware Bay beaches, marshland, and fishing hamlets at the southern end of New Jersey, whose working-class community is fighting to retain their place in a country that has left them behind. The Bayshore, like so many rural places in the US, is under immense pressure from a combination of severe economic decline, industry loss, and regulation. But it is also contending with one of the fastest rates of sea level rise on the planet and the aftereffects of one of the most destructive hurricanes in American history, Superstorm Sandy. If in the years prior to Sandy the Bayshore had already been slowly disappearing, its beaches eroding and lowland cedar woods hollowing out into saltwater-bleached ghost forests, after the hurricane, the community was decimated. Today, homes and roads and memories are crumbling into the rising bay.Cumberland, the poor, rural county where the Bayshore is located, had been left out of the bulk of the initial federal disaster relief package post-Sandy. Instead of money to rebuild, the Bayshore got the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Superstorm Sandy Blue Acres Program, which identified and purchased flood-prone neighborhoods where working-class citizens lived, then demolished them to be converted to open space.The Drowning of Money Island is an intimate yet unbiased, lyrical yet investigative portrait of a rural community ravaged by sea level rise and economic hardship, as well as the increasingly divisive politics those factors have helped spawn. It invites us to confront how climate change is already intensifying preexisting inequality.