One Year after Sandy

A year after the devastating Hurricane Sandy ripped through the major population centers of the East Coast, has the United States done enough to assist in clean up efforts?  The hurricane, which struck on October 29, 2012, hit directly at major population centers along the New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts shorelines, obliterating infrastructure and devastating the lives of many East Coast residents. Almost 160 people died either directly or indirectly as a result of Sandy, and over 340,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. The thousands of people who became homeless after Sandy still roam the streets, and the progress on infrastructure reconstruction is very slow. Apart from household losses, businesses reported to have lost a net $30 billion attributable to Sandy, mainly due to lack of tourists and destruction of infrastructure. Many analysts report that the money needed to fix all of the damage from the storm will total about $68 billion.

One year after Superstorm Sandy, many iconic areas like Seaside Heights have made a complete recovery. Image by Kevin Jarrett.

The havoc created by Sandy has been most prevalent in the New York City area.  In the days leading up to the storm, the entirety of the Big Apple grinded to a halt in preparation for the impact, with almost every public service from the subway to hospital system shut down.  When the hurricane passed, getting back to work proved difficult for many people due to shortages of basic supplies like fuel. However, rebuilding efforts began immediately on areas damaged by the superstorm. Many of these efforts continue to this day. FEMA announced in November that it had spent $31 billion in federal aid to restore infrastructure and get the economy started up again. However, not everyone will be able to rebound after Sandy. The situation depends on the victim in question, as some are more likely to recover than others. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference, “Some families and some lives have come back together quickly and well, and some people are up and running almost as if nothing ever happened, and for them it’s been fine. Some people are still very much in the midst of recovery. You still have people in hotel rooms, you still have people doubled up, you still have people fighting with insurance companies, and for them it’s been terrible and horrendous.”

The New Jersey coast was also hurt very badly, and many coastal towns along the Jersey Shore were decimated due to the flooding and high winds caused by the storm.  More than 2 million homes across New Jersey were left without electricity when power lines were taken down by winds, rain, and seawater waves. During the 10 days after the disaster, New Jersey Power Companies worked around the clock to restore power, managing to reduce the amount of people left in the dark to 265,000. Similarly to the situation in New York, outside aid began to pour in soon after the storm ended, and crucial supplies were delivered to the millions of families left without power. Donations from around the United States also funded the creation of shelters for those displaced by the storm. Congress even passed a bill giving $50.5 billion in aid to assist those affected by the storm. However, much of the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in the Garden State still remains. Many small coastal towns in New Jersey are empty, with entire neighborhoods completely abandoned. Other areas, such as Seaside Heights, have made a full comeback despite a fire that destroyed part of its boardwalk during the superstorm. All in all, there is still much work that must be finished in order for the East Coast to recover completely from the devastation of Sandy.

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