Prime Hook residents leave for sunnier, drier clime

April 30, 2013

Rick and Diane Allan have left the house they once considered their dream home. The Prime Hook residents, for the time being, are living in sunny and dry New Mexico, where it’s unlikely they’ll need to consult tide charts before navigating from their dwelling.

That wasn’t the case here, where I saw firsthand how precarious the link is between Prime Hook and the “mainland.”

Rick, in his email, used the word “mainland” in quotation marks. It is, of course, not quite accurate. The Prime Hook community is no island, but some days it comes close. That’s part of why he left, though not the only part. He has family living in New Mexico and he will be living near them.

But there’s no question that living on that thin sliver of land between Delaware Bay and the open water behind their house took its toll. Allan wrote, “While we will be retaining our Delaware resident status and home at Prime Hook, our decision to leave was heavily influenced by the day to day stress, especially oppressive during the winters here, of living virtually storm to storm.

“We have seen the bay waters rushing down toward us along the ‘marsh’ once too many times,” he continued. “The threat of something worse is ever-present in this environment. This situation is no longer acceptable for us as a way to live here full time.”

Only a few short years ago this man thought he was retiring here full time.

This shows the other side of the property rights issue. The Positive Growth Alliance, and many residents, proclaim the primacy of property rights. Which is understandable. It’s only natural for people to want to maximize the value of their property.

But look at the issue from the viewpoint of home buyers like the Allans. Does it make sense to continue building in areas where it’s becoming untenable to provide services? During storms, school buses are rerouted because of flooded roads; emergency crews can’t always reach those who are stranded.

Dealing with our receding shoreline is going to take wisdom, goodwill and, unfortunately, lots and lots of money. Everybody in Delaware - even those living far from the coast - has a stake because, ultimately, taxpayers are going to pick up the tab.

Which brings me to last week’s letter from Rich Collins, executive director of the PGA, which will play a powerful role in this debate. I could go over Collins’s letter in detail, but let’s look at one paragraph.

Collins, who warned people not to be gullible, wrote: “Fortunately, for those of us who value American traditions of liberty, the majority are no longer buying it [global warming]. According to the latest Gallup poll, 43 percent of Americans now believe the effects of global warming are being exaggerated, while only 29 percent think they are being underestimated.”

I looked up the poll at the Gallup Politics website. Here’s the headline for the story about the poll that, according to Collins, proves Americans are no longer “buying” global warming:

“Americans’ Concerns About Global Warming on the Rise.” Not quite what I expected. The subhead says, “Majority believe global warming is happening, but may still say it’s exaggerated.”

Here are more findings:

• 58 percent worry either a great deal or a fair amount about global warming.

• 54 percent believe the effects of global warming have already begun, and 27 percent believe that the effects will begin in the future - adding up to a whopping 81 percent. Only 15 percent believe we will suffer no ill effects.

These and other poll results contradict Collins’s statement, which made it sounds as if belief in global warming was fading. Poll results show the opposite.

But there was that one finding that supported Collins, right?  Not really.

According to the poll, 41 percent do believe that news reports about global warming are exaggerated, while 33 percent say they’re underestimated.

But Collins left out the 24 percent who think news reports are correct. (None of the poll results add up to 100 percent because some people have no opinion.)

Add those two groups together and you have 57 percent who think news reports are either correct or underestimated. Sounds a lot different from Collins’s spin.

Collins plucked the one question that appeared to support his view and then left out important information, leaving a false impression. If cherry-picking were an Olympic sport, Collins would be competing for the gold. (Collins’s numbers are somewhat different from mine because he referenced the 2011 poll. I used 2013 results.)

In his letter, Collins said, “We would like government as a partner, not as our master.”

Partner is a good word here. A partner is someone you can trust, someone who will rely on facts, not fantasy; reason, not emotion.

I want to believe Collins when he says he would like to be a partner. But I also don’t want to be gullible.

  • A number of accomplished writers will be appearing in the Politics column every Tuesday on a rotating basis to explore the dynamic world of politics at the local, county, state, national and world levels.

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