A New Jersey town is considering a drastically ambitious flood prevention step: Raising the entire downtown area by 10 or 11 feet. The heart of the ironically-named Highlands lies in a crescent-shaped depression that used to be a marsh, making it flood prone. So officials want to lift every building and fill in the land beneath with landfill—a process that would send residents to temporary camps for about a month. The Army Corps is considering the project, which would cost an estimated $200 million, the Asbury Park Press reports.
Critics say it's unclear why Highlands should get that kind of money over other coastal areas. "It's a very expensive option," admits one official studying it. But the head of Highlands' Environmental Commission thinks a combination of federal, state, and private funding can make it happen. He's been backing the idea for years, well before Hurricane Sandy. "At the time, it seemed as though we would be using a 1-ton hammer to drive in a nail," he says. "Now it doesn't seem so out of proportion." (Read more New Jersey stories.)