SEASIDE PARK, N.J. — A year after Hurricane 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 Gov. Chris Christie (R) began his day at the beach town of Seaside Park, where homes were flooded by up 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 hit the hardest — he had estimated it could take two years to recover.
“We’re about halfway there,” Christie told firefighters and local officials Tuesday. “We all have to acknowledge that there are still thousands of people out of their homes.”
Throughout the Northeast, many residents are still coping with damaged homes and waiting for some of the $48 billion in federal aid pledged for rebuilding, which officials have acknowledged has been paid out slowly.
On Monday, federal officials announced plans to release a second $5 billion round of funding from the Sandy relief fund, for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and Rhode Island. The money is for rebuilding and repairing homes.
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’s subway system, which was partially shut down for almost a week. For weeks, many residents struggled 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 planned to stand along the coast with flashlights at sundown Tuesday for a commemoration called “Light Up New Jersey.”
Sandy also prompted officials across the region to rethink storm preparedness.
In June, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) proposed a $20 billion plan to help the city better prepare for storms, including measures new flood walls andbuilding up beaches, which can be natural barriers.