"The real message here is, if we build smart, if we build resilience into communities, we can live along the coast. But we can do it in a way that saves lives and protects taxpayers' investment," said Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, who was appointed chair when President Obama created the task force in December.
Donovan spoke at a news conference in New York City to announce the 200-page report, prepared with the help of officials from 37 towns and six states, and representatives of two dozen federal departments and agencies.
On Tuesday, Donovan will travel to Bergen County with Gov. Christie to discuss the report and New Jersey's recovery.
"Decision-makers at all levels must recognize that climate change and the resulting increase in risks from extreme weather have eliminated the option of simply building back to outdated standards and expecting better outcomes after the next extreme event," the report says.
Although some climate experts have said Sandy was the result of extreme weather caused by climate change, Christie said in May there was no "proof thus far that Sandy was caused by climate change."
Christie's office did not return calls for comment on Monday's report, but nonpartisan groups lauded it, saying it addresses a need for conversations between the public and private sectors in formulating storm resiliency strategies.
"We must seize this moment to engage all residents, expand opportunity to all families, including those most vulnerable, and advance a smarter vision for long-term prosperity and progress across the region," said Darren Walker, incoming president of the Ford Foundation. "The [report] offers a promising road map in that direction."
Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, commended the task force, saying the nation must "build systems that are less likely go down during a disaster and will come back more quickly if they go down."
"We cannot prevent all future disasters from occurring, but we can prevent failing catastrophically by embracing, practicing, and improving comprehensive resilience strategies," Rodin said.
Two of the worst post-Sandy situations were the failure of mobile networks, which lacked adequate battery backup systems, and extended power outages that shut down gas station fuel pumps, causing shortages and stranding drivers.
Other recommendations in the report are federal deadlines for reviewing and issuing building permits, and loosening eligibility for Small Business Administration loans so businesses can get back on their feet more quickly. The report also recommends revising federal mortgage policies so homeowners can receive insurance checks faster.
Contact Jacqueline L. Urgo at 609-652-8382 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Jersey Shore blog "Downashore" at inquirer.com/downashore. Follow on Twitter @JacquelineUrgo.