As they worked to help repair some of the damage, people in New York and New Jersey on Tuesday commemorated the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which tore a deadly and costly path through the region one year ago.
Video and photo images show how coastal communities were flooded during Sandy's fierce winds and record storm surges. On Tuesday, volunteers in those same communities marked the anniversary by repairing lingering damage. Officials throughout the region visited some of the hardest-hit enclaves, reminding people of all that has been done and promising that relief efforts will continue.
“Today we remember our fellow Americans who lost their lives to that storm, and we comfort the families who grieve them still,” President Obama said in a statement. “And while there are still homes to rebuild and businesses to reopen, the last year has also served as a reminder of the strength and resilience of the American people.”
Obama said that “billions of dollars of assistance” had been given to “hundreds of thousands of people and small-business owners through direct aid, grants and loans. We've helped thousands of families stay in their homes, communities cut through red tape and bureaucracy to receive the help they need, and worked with state and local officials to open 97% of public beaches before Memorial Day, sending a strong message to the country that the shore was open for business.
“That's who we are as Americans — we take care of our own. We leave nobody behind,” the president said.
Damage from the storm has been estimated at up to $65 billion, affecting thousands of homes. Though the federal government has authorized $60 billion in aid, some complain that the money has been slow in working its way to those in need.
Speaking on “CBS This Morning,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who famously embraced Obama a year ago, blamed federal government delays for keeping about 26,000 people homeless after the storm.
“While we’ve made great progress in the first year, there are frustrations and challenges that remain, and my job is to address those and overcome them,” Christie said before making a series of stops throughout the state.
It was about 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 29, 2012, that Sandy swept ashore in New Jersey as a Category 1 hurricane, merging with other weather systems to become a superstorm. By the time it dissipated, it had flooded low-lying areas along the tourist-rich Jersey shore to across the barrier islands off Long Island. Millions of people were left without power, subways were flooded, and hospitals had to be evacuated. Parts of Manhattan were cut off from food and water and residents of high-rises were without elevator service as surges of up to 14 feet wreaked havoc.
In addition to causing the worst damage of the 2012 hurricane season, Sandy was blamed for at least 181 deaths in the Eastern United States, including 68 in New York and 71 in New Jersey.
Residents on Tuesday were marking the exact moment of Sandy’s arrival with vigils featuring candles and flashlight beams along the Jersey shore and in Staten Island, where 23 people died in the floods that have made parts of the area around Oakwood Beach uninhabitable. While touring rebuilding efforts, local officials said were still working to make things better.
“Today we saw firsthand examples of work being done citywide to help make New York City’s infrastructure withstand future severe weather events,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said. “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.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo toured the World Trade Center with U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. The Port Authority has spent more than $100 million on repair and mitigation measures throughout the site and has approved more than $300 million in additional repair and mitigation funding, officials said.
“Superstorm Sandy caused significant damage at the World Trade Center, but in the year since then we have made considerable progress toward both rebuilding and strengthening the site for future extreme weather,” Cuomo said. “From the innovative approach of using security bollards to aid a flood barrier to raising electrical equipment and waterproofing materials, the improvements that have been identified over the past year will be key to responding to the next major storm.”
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