Ocean County, NJ - New Jersey families, businesses and municipalities suffered a huge financial toll from Superstorm Sandy—much larger than previously reported—and estimates for uncovered costs should be expected to rise by the billions according to a new report, “Extreme Weather, Extreme Costs: The True Financial Impact of Hurricane Sandy on New Jersey Homeowners, Businesses and Municipalities”, released today by US Strong.

“Things are changing, so we are going to have change,” said Republican New Jersey State Senator and Senate Conference Leader Robert Singer.  “Across the nation, we’re seeing intense storms, more frequent storms, and unfortunately greater catastrophes. There has to be a permanent funding source, so we don’t sit there and wait and say, ‘Does Congress like us this year or not?’ We have to look into how to fund this dedicated fund. We have to look at all avenues.” 

Key findings of the report include:

Ø  The cost of the storm has exceeded $70 billion, and more than half of that is attributed to New Jersey, the hardest hit state.

Ø  New Jerseyans will have to find a way to pay for an estimated $8 billion to $13 billion in expenses that will not be covered by federal or state assistance.

Ø  New Jersey officials admit that the $8 to $13 billion estimate is woefully low. As this report details, we can expect that shortfall to rise, perhaps by billions or even tens of billions of dollars.

Dozens of New Jerseyans were interviewed for the report by a team of journalists led by Ian Shearn, former Star Ledger editor and freelance journalist.  The report also includes six video interviews, including State Senator Singer, Toms River Mayor Kelaher, Toms River Business Administrator Paul Shives, Homeowners Gigi Liaguno-Dorr, and Tom and Lynda Fote, along with businessman Roy Diehl. Videos can be viewed at: http://tinyurl.com/USStrongVids.

“What lies beyond the impersonal and huge Sandy storm cost numbers is the fact that pocketbooks are being emptied, hard-earned savings have been swallowed whole, homes have been lost, small business owners’ dreams have crumbled, and new debt has been incurred. This is not some future prediction. It is now the new reality of extreme weather we all are living with,” stated Curtis Fisher, co-author of the US Strong report and US Strong National Campaign Director. “We cannot just talk about the need for emergency relief and storm preparedness. We need to fund it to protect the New Jersey shore and other communities across the country from extreme weather.”

"Americans nationwide deserve protection from extreme weather. We shouldn't have to wait for Congressional wrangling before relief heads our way.  Recent events in Congress demonstrate this fact more than ever," said Tom Fote, Toms River homeowner. "The time has also come to recognize the fact that we need more funding to protect communities from extreme weather, and the best way to do that is putting a cost on the pollution that is placing these communities in jeopardy in the first place."

US Strong has been working with thousands of New Jerseyans calling for the creation of a dedicated federal “Extreme Weather Relief and Protection Fund.” This fund would support emergency response and help communities to prepare for extreme weather. A dedicated fund, like the Highway Trust Fund, will also ensure that communities get resources quickly after extreme weather disasters—rather than wait for Congress to pass disaster relief legislation.  

Supporting this fund should not burden working families and businesses with increased property, income, sales and corporate business taxes -- nor should we rely on deficit spending. Instead, all revenue streams should be considered including putting a financial cost on putting more carbon pollution into the atmosphere that is fueling more extreme weather.