A year after Sandy, thousands still can’t return home

A woman walks along the Coney Island boardwalk, past a closed off section in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Credit: Reuters
A woman walks along the Coney Island boardwalk, past a closed off section in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
Credit: Reuters

A year after Superstorm Sandy inundated the East Coast with record flooding that left 159 people dead, residents of hard-hit New Jersey and New York shore communities still have a ways to go in rebuilding damaged homes.

New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, began his day at the beach town of Seaside Park, where homes were flooded by two to three feet of water when the storm roared ashore.

It was hit again by disaster in September when wiring damaged by the flooding sparked an enormous fire that destroyed several blocks of boardwalk that had been rebuilt after Sandy.

Christie recalled how, in the immediate aftermath of the storm that damaged about 650,000 homes along the coast – with New Jersey, New York and Connecticut the hardest hit – he had estimated it could take two years to recover.

“We’re about halfway there,” Christie told town firefighters and local officials on Tuesday. “We all have to acknowledge that there are still thousands of people out of their homes.”

Throughout the U.S. northeast, residents in storm-hit shore communities are still coping with damaged homes and waiting for $48 billion in federal aid pledged for rebuilding, which officials have acknowledged has been paid out slowly.

Federal officials on Monday unveiled plans to release a second $5 billion round of funding from the Sandy relief fund, for New York State and City, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and Rhode Island. The money is aimed at rebuilding and repairing homes damaged by the storm.

Sandy, a rare, late-season tropical storm, made landfall at slightly below hurricane strength but its winds extended over 1,000 miles, causing a storm surge that flooded downtown Manhattan and long stretches of the New Jersey shore, leaving millions in the dark, some for weeks.

The floodwaters breached New York City’s subway system, which was partially out of commission for almost a week, and left many residents struggling for weeks to find adequate supplies of gasoline as power outages left homes dark and cold and filling stations closed.

Residents of New Jersey shore cities from Ocean City to Jersey City plan to stand along the coast with flashlights at sundown Tuesday in an event, called “Light Up New Jersey.”

FOCUS ON PREPAREDNESS

Sandy also prompted officials across the region to rethink storm preparedness.

While this year’s Atlantic hurricane season has been the quietest in 45 years, with only two storms reaching hurricane strength, regional leaders said shore communities need to remain ready for similar high-powered storms.

In Seaside Park, Gary and Monica Vernick were working on their vacation house, which they have had elevated 13 feet on concrete pilings to protect it from future storms.

While jacking up the house and upgrading its utilities cost $275,000, part of which will be paid for by flood insurance and funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 59-year-old Gary said it was worth the expense compared with the $18,000 per year increase in insurance premiums had the couple left the house at ground level.

“We spend our whole summer here,” said Monica, 58. “If this house comes down, the world is coming to an end.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in June proposed a $20 billion plan to prepare the city to better handle future storms, with measures ranging from new flood walls to building up beaches, which can be natural barriers.

“As we continue working to help families recover from Hurricane Sandy, we’re also working to make New York climate-ready so we can protect our most vulnerable communities and strengthen our economic future for generations to come,” Bloomberg said on Tuesday.

The Army Corps of Engineers has already replaced 600,000 cubic yards of the estimated 1.5 million of sand washed away from New York City’s Rockaway Peninsula.

Another 2.9 million cubic yards will be added by May to build taller, stronger dunes that could better protect the low-lying coastal community, Bloomberg’s office said.

In Rockaway’s Breezy Point, where about 135 homes burnt to the ground during the storm and another 220 were damaged by the storm surge, dozens of volunteers fanned out on Tuesday to plant beach grass to strengthen newly rebuilt dunes.

Arthur Lighthall, general manager of the private community, said he was encouraged by the pace of rebuilding.

“There was a period of time a lot of us were concerned with the how, the what, the when we were going to get things under way,” Lighthall said. “Now here we are, it’s October and there’s just a tremendous amount of construction.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.