"Climate change is definitely looming over my future. With an ocean front hotel that is steps from the water, how would it not be?"
Growing up in the family hotel business, Justin has no shortage of challenging experiences. From skunks in the dumpster, to pipe stealing thieves to destructive storms like Hurricane Bob, he thought he had seen it all. But what he's facing now, will likely be his biggest challenge to date.
His grandparents built the Surfcomber hotel in 1959, passed it on to his parents then he became manager 40 years later. Justin considered himself quite lucky his grandparents were able to save enough money for beachfront property. But nowadays, he's starting to wonder how much longer that luck will last with the threat of increasingly strong storms and sea level knocking on his door. Justin's concerned about how climate change will impact the business, his staff and his livelihood.
"If flood insurance rates go up by 24% each year, it won't be too long before it's not affordable to run this hotel."
The Surfcomber's ocean front rooms are about as close to the ocean as you can get on Cape Cod. While it's a great selling point for guests, FEMA sees it as a huge liability. In 2017, Justin received a letter from FEMA stating that flood insurance rates would be going up 15% to 18% per year, indefinitely. In actuality, they went up 24%.
A growing number of coastal communities no longer have the option of flood insurance. Justin has realized it's only a matter of time before that happens here on Cape Cod. Once it does, he's doesn't think he'll have the heart to stay in business because the risks will far outweigh the reward.
"It's definitely scary to think that by 2050, our water table levels could be high enough that you'd only need to dig 6 feet before you hit water."
This spring, Justin attended an environmental forum and was shocked to learn how sea level rise will impact the water table levels. At his location in Yarmouth, fresh water sits atop salt water. So as the sea levels rise, so will the fresh water. In thirty years, projections show that in some locations in his neighborhood, the water table level will only be 6 feet below the ground. He's not certain what this means for the Surfcomber but he is really starting to feel the heat.
Justin is concerned about climate change but thought it was going to be a problem for future generations. Earlier this year, Justin joined the Climate Action Business Association (CABA). He believes that to save his family business, everyone needs to reduce their carbon emissions immediately. He sees carbon pricing as an effective tool to do so and is hoping more businesses across Massachusetts will use their voices for political advocacy. His livelihood, and his family's legacy, depends on it.
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