Sandy’s Storm Effects Still Felt [SERIES]
In part one of our series Sandy: Then and Now, we look at how the state looked right after the Superstorm hit and how it looks almost a year later.
It’s been almost a year since Superstorm Sandy unleashed its wrath along the Jersey coast, and while much of the landscape has been restored, things are far from finished.
Superstorm Sandy affected all 21 counties in the Garden State, dealing over $30 billion in damage to New Jersey alone; damaging vital roads and infrastructure as well as 346,000 homes, and leaving 2.4 million residents without power.
FEMA, the American Red Cross, and 500 other relief organizations participated in the disaster recovery effort, with some beginning work before the storm even passed.
Karen Vossen, Director of Superstorm Sandy communication for the Red Cross, says their response to Sandy was one of the largest mobilizations the organization has undertaken in years. It started with providing aid to millions across the state who were forced to evacuate their homes.
“Altogether, the Red Cross served more than 17.5 million meals, handed out about 7 million in relief items, such as cold weather blankets and clothes. We’ve provided about 163,000 shelter spaces for Sandy victims,” she said.
Vossen notes that even if homes weren’t destroyed completely, many were inaccessible because roads were blocked off and the lack of electricity, which meant people had to be displaced longer.
“Even if homes didn’t have flooding or tree damage, their power was out and a Nor’easter hit, so it was too cold for people come back to.”
Federal aid, both from federal grants and funding as well as private donations, has been given to storm victims. Vossen says the Red Cross has received roughly $300 million in contributions towards Sandy relief, 90 percent of which has been used.
In the past year, much of the damage from the storm has been addressed, however Vossen points out many are still displaced, infrastructure remains damaged, and people’s lives are still not the same.
As of April 2013, about 39,000 families statewide were still unable to return to their homes, down from 161,000 after the storm hit.
Currently, the Red Cross is working with long-term recovery groups from around the state, to address the needs of communities focusing on issues still lingering from last October’s storm.
“As you go from county to county, these long-term recovery groups are in different phases. There are some that are great and really up and running because they had to be because they had a lot of damage. And some are a little further behind because certain towns got really destroyed, but overall, their county was really not impacted.”