Wednesday, February 21, 2018

For many, Sandy's devastation persists

THE SCOPE: The storm, the deadliest and most destructive of the 2012 hurricane season, ripped a hole through the psyches and infrastructure of the Eastern Seaboard when it made landfall on Oct. 29 and struck hard in New Jersey, metropolitan New York and moved through New England.

At least 182 people died in the United States, millions were without power for days and in some areas, weeks. Gasoline shortages crunched rescue efforts and disrupted the supply of necessities such as food and water.

The federal government has already spent more than $14 billion in assistance to New York and New Jersey alone. At least $250 million has been spent on Sandy-related repair and recovery projects for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority region, which runs New York subways and buses.

Private funds have helped rebuild disaster areas from New Jersey's tourism boardwalks and beach communities to some of the estimated 300,000 homes that were destroyed or damaged.

THE METEOROLOGY: Hurricane Sandy grew to a Category 3 storm as it worked its way through the Caribbean. By Oct. 29, Sandy had moved ashore near Brigantine, N.J., just northeast of Atlantic City, as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds.

When it came ashore, it ran into other storm fronts coming in from the Midwest and down from Canada, a rare confluence that turned what would have been a bad hurricane into a disastrous superstorm. The severely energized storm affected parts of 24 states including the East Coast from Florida to Maine. It was a Category 1 hurricane covering an astounding 1.8 million square miles, according to NASA.

THE DAMAGE: Winds combined with incoming tides to flood low-lying areas and the famed tunnels of Manhattan, isolating the island from the rest of the city. A broad area south of 34th Street was cut off from transportation, and cellphone service failed.

In parts of Brooklyn and Queens, flooding forced electrical generators to fail, ending elevator service to high-rise buildings. Hospitals were evacuated, food and water was in short supply. Gasoline was rationed.

One of the iconic images of those days of nature's wrath was a fire that tore through Breezy Point, a popular place for many city workers, including firefighters. It is estimated that 350 homes, more than 10 percent of the area's houses, were destroyed by fire or flood and had to be demolished.

Today, more than a third of those homes remain unoccupied. Just six months ago, the area was 85 percent empty, officials told Newsday.

THE RECOVERY EFFORT: The rebuilding efforts remain huge. The National Climatic Data Center estimated the cost of Sandy at $65 billion, behind only Hurricane Katrina on the list of costliest disasters ever to hit the United States. Some people have used up their emergency benefits and are still seeking long-term housing. Whole communities from the Oakwood Beach area of Staten Island to Breezy Point, N.Y., to Long Beach on Long Island still need help despite hundreds of millions of dollars already spent — in some cases to buy out homeowners who stand no chance of rebuilding since land was washed into the sea.

Los Angeles Times

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