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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Exactly one year ago, Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, destroying entire communities across New York and New Jersey.

Sandy, initially labeled a hurricane, was the deadliest storm to hit the northeastern United States in 40 years, killing over 100 people. In the storm’s aftermath, businesses and homes were completely wrecked, and thousands were left without power, gas, and water as winter approached. The damage caused by Sandy is estimated at $50-$65 billion.

A year after the storm, New York City and New Jersey are still working to rebuild.

In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced rebuilding projects meant to withstand the impacts of climate change. Their report, released in August of this year, recommends 69 policy initiatives that involve restoring houses, helping small businesses, and increasing data sharing between federal, state, and local officials.The report also suggests a new, more advanced electrical grid to better react to future crises.

Just as significantly, New York governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced the nation’s first gas reserve in response to the gas shortage that affected New Yorkers after the storm hit.

In New Jersey, outspoken governor Chris Christie has continued to criticize the federal government for its response to the storm, telling the Associated Press on Sunday that he wishes “the federal government would allow us the flexibility” to give victims more aid, quickly. Christie has devoted most of his efforts and grant money to rebuilding the Jersey Shore, which he hopes will help stimulate the economy. Other officials in the New Jersey communities of  Mantoloking and Brick Township have announced plans to build a massive $40 million sand dune, anchored by a four-mile steel seawall, to protect against future storms.

However, not all is well for many of the families affected by the storm. Thousands in New Jersey feel forgotten by Christie’s “Jersey Strong” campaign, saying they have been shut out of the rebuilding efforts and are unaware of the guidelines being used to determine which applications are approved for recovery funds. And despite Bloomberg and Donovan’s many initiatives, the rising cost of flood insurance has not been addressed, leaving many of those living in towns along New York’s Rockaway peninsula worrying that even after they rebuild their homes, they will not be able to afford the increased premiums.

The video below, from Climate Desk, highlights these concerns for those rebuilding in Rockaway’s Breezy Point – concerns surely shared by New Jersey residents as well.

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