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Are We Ready for Another Superstorm? [SERIES]

As the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy approaches, New Jersey has made tremendous efforts to repair, rebuild, and prepare for another possible hit from a hurricane at some point in the future, but what would happen if the Garden State took another direct hit in the coming weeks or months? In the first part of a five-part series, we take a look today at whether we are ready.

Superstorm Sandy business
Ortley Beach (Mark Wilson, Getty Images)

After the Superstorm struck last October 29th, hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed, boardwalks were swept away, power was knocked out for weeks, the state’s transportation network was compromised and millions of lives were disrupted.

In response, beaches and dunes are being reconstructed, roads are being rebuilt, billions of federal dollars in grants and loans are helping homeowners and businesses rebuild. The state has secured funds to help those living in flood-prone areas raise their homes or sell them and move to other locations.

In addition, state dollars are helping municipalities and counties develop more comprehensive emergency plans for possible future storms. A cooperative effort has been launched to identify regional resiliency opportunities to help officials better protect a number of drinking water, communication and transportation systems all over New Jersey.

The Garden State is also working with the U.S. Energy Department to develop a state-of-the-art micro-grid to power the NJ Transit rail system if the regular grid goes down in the future.

But are we really ready for another monster storm?

“We’re much better prepared as a government to know how to respond, how to help people, where the weak points are. We’re much better prepared than we were. However, some of the infrastructure is not yet hardened, so if we got another storm in the next 30 to 60 days, that would be a big problem,” says New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

“It’s probably going to be a two-year process to get ourselves to a much more hardened position against a storm and it’s going to take an investment of billions of dollars of federal money and private sector money, but we have to keep in mind we lost over $37 billion during Sandy, so the billions we invest now will save us a multiple of that investment going forward,” Christie explained.

The Governor adds even with all of the work that’s ongoing, “you’ll hear throughout the rest of the fall, announcements of more resiliency programs in different sectors of New Jersey life. We are much better prepared to respond, but I think we need to harden those assets, and that’s going to take time.”

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