One Year Since Sandy

A Historic Storm that Caused Nearly $40 Billion in Recovery and Rebuilding Needs

TRENTON, NJ - One year ago, Superstorm Sandy made landfall and caused unprecedented damage across New Jersey:

  • 38 people lost their lives;
  • 346,000 homes were damaged or destroyed;
  • Every single school was closed, while six were severely damaged;
  • More than 2.7 million households and businesses were without power;
  • More than 116,000 people were evacuated from their homes;
  • 127 shelters were opened;
  • Nearly 600 roads were closed;
  • 189,500 businesses were impacted, including 75 percent of small businesses in New Jersey.

ACTING QUICKLY IN THE IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH TO GET BACK TO NORMAL

Governor Christie and his Administration acted immediately in the days following Sandy to get New Jersey and its people back to normal:

  • Within three weeks of the storm, 99 percent of New Jersey's schools were open and every student whose school remained closed was in a temporary location school;
  • Nearly 5,000 households were housed in hotels and motels;
  • More than one million pounds of food were distributed;
  • More than 100 Disaster Crisis Counselors were deployed to emergency shelters to work with residents in need;
  • Within 9 days, electricity had been restored to nearly 90% of customers throughout the state;
  • Within two days, 75 percent of NJ TRANSIT buses were back in operation, and within three weeks, all but one NJ TRANSIT rail lines were restored.

MOVING FORWARD IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY

Sandy’s destruction caused $36.9 billion worth of damage and needs – the largest and most ferocious storm in New Jersey’s history. From October 2012 through March 2013, tens of thousands of New Jerseyans and communities received nearly $3 billion in immediate aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA).

The combination of congressional inaction approving the emergency supplemental and stricter federal regulations in the post-Hurricane Katrina era meant that the first round of Community Development Block Grants (CBDG) was not released by the Obama Administration until May.

PUTTING NEW JERSEYANS BACK IN THEIR HOMES

Despite these challenges, during the last six months, the Christie Administration has launched 17 CBDG programs at an unprecedented pace to help get the initial $1.83 billion approved by the Obama Administration– of which $1.159 billion was targeted specifically for housing – out the door. The priority was putting those with the greatest needs with the most limited financial resources at the front of the line.

According to FEMA statistics, Sandy severely or majorly damaged more than 40,000 homes. Today, less than six months after the first phase of CDBG funds started flowing in New Jersey, approximately 29,000 households have received or are in the process of receiving Sandy assistance, with a focus on getting help to the neediest first:

  • More than 4,100 homeowners have been initially approved for grants to repair their homes through the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program;
  • About 92 percent – or more than 16,700 checks of the 18,200 who applied and met eligibility requirements – are in-hand or on the way to homeowners to allow them to remain in the nine most-impacted Sandy counties through the Homeowner Resettlement Program;
  • 272 homeowners of the 1,000 initially targeted for voluntary buyouts are in the process of moving out of harm’s way from flood-prone areas in the South River and Sayreville communities through the Blue Acres program;
  • About 50 percent – more than 2,900 people of the 6,522 who applied are working with the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to elevate their primary single-family residences through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) Elevation Program;
  • 75 percent – or nearly $45 million dollars of the $60 million total –  of funds are out the door to the hardest-hit communities through the Disaster Recovery Essential Services Grants, that are for police, public works, education and emergency first aid squads in Atlantic City, Toms Rover, Sea Bright, Asbury Park, Brigantine, Keansburg, Lavallette, Little Egg Harbor & communities throughout Ocean County.

PUTTING LOW AND MODERATE INCOME FAMILIES FIRST

  • 256 units of affordable housing for low and moderate income households have been approved through the Landlord Incentive Program;
  • Nearly one million dollars have been approved  in interest-free, forgivable mortgages to help low and moderate income people buy homes in Sandy-affected communities through the Sandy Homebuyer Assistance Program;
  • More than $13 million in zero-interest loans have been approved to provide 84 affordable housing units in Sandy-impacted communities through the Neighborhood Enhancement Program;
  • Nearly $6 million dollars of the $10 million total have been provided to non-profit affordable housing developers for the revitalization of Sandy-affected areas through the Predevelopment Loan Fund For Affordable Rental Housing;
  • 96 percent – or more than $153 million of the $159 million – has been committed to repair and construct affordable multi-family rental housing units through the Fund For Restoration Of Multi-Family Rental Housing.

REOPENING NEW JERSEY’S BUSINESSES

More than 108 businesses have been approved for nearly $6 million from the following NJ Economic Development Authority administered Stronger NJ Business programs:

  • TheStronger NJ Business GrantProgram;
  • The Stronger NJ Business Loan Program; and
  • The Stronger NJ Neighborhood and Community Revitalization Program (NCR).

RESTORING OUR ROADS, BEACHES AND ICONIC BOARDWALKS

All Land Debris Removal Has Been Completed

Following Sandy, New Jersey oversaw the removal of more than 8 million cubic yards of debris, including household and vegetative debris caused by the storm as well as sand.

  • More than 4,400 truckloads of debris were removed from state and local roads from Sea Bright to Seaside Heights;
  • 4,330 dump truck loads of sand was cleaned for municipalities to recycle and replenish their beaches;
  • 600 feet of metal sheeting was installed to reinforce the ocean side of the Mantoloking breach;
  • 80 sink holes were repaired, 1,100 traffic signals fixed and 1,250 traffic signs erected across New Jersey during the immediate clean-up;
  • 326 Temporary Debris Management Areas were set up across the state to safely and efficiently collect, stage, and transport offsite the large amount of vegetative and waste debris generated by the storm.

New Jersey’s Waterways Are Also Clean & Free Of Debris

After the storm, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) quickly coordinated one of the largest and most complex disaster cleanups:

  • More than 103,000 cubic yards of debris were removed from New Jersey waterways, one of the largest undertakings of its kind ever in the nation;
  • 200 submerged vessels were removed from state waters;
  • 175 ocean and 43 bay stations are monitored for recreational beach water quality.

Reconstruction of Route 35 Is Underway

Sandy carried away entire sections of Route 35 and completely destroyed the highway drainage system. In July, the Christie Administration officially broke ground on the $265 million construction project to rebuild Route 35, the gateway to many of the barrier islands that make up the Jersey Shore.

  • The Federal Highway Administration has committed to pay 80 percent of the cost of the project from its Sandy Emergency Relief funds; and
  • The reconstruction of Route 35 is incorporating “best practices,” including flood vents, anti-scour measures, and pump stations. 

Nearly 100 Percent of New Jersey Beaches Were Open Summer 2013

New Jersey is known as “a leader in ecosystem management and made a lot of progress improving conditions along the coast,” according to NJ Sea Grant Consortium, a leading environmental group that promotes New Jersey's marine and coastal resources.

In the wake of Sandy, the Christie Administration acted quickly to ensure New Jersey’s beaches and waterways were clean and open for the summer season. This summer, nearly 100 percent of the state’s beaches were open, one of the highest rates in the country.

Every Single Public Boardwalk Is Open

Although many of New Jersey’s iconic boardwalks were damaged or destroyed by Sandy, this past summer saw every single public boardwalk and beach along the Shore open. This includes the 10 miles of beaches, boardwalks and bayside trails at Island Beach State Park that had been so severely damaged by the storm.

Over the summer, Governor Christie made it a key priority to visit towns damaged by the storm, welcoming both President Barack Obama and Prince Harry to tour the damage and see the resiliency of all New Jerseyans.

 

HELPING NEW JERSEYANS CUT THROUGH INSURANCE RED TAPE

  • Ninety eight percent of the 465,461 non-flood, state-regulated private insurance claims, totaling more than $4 billion, filed for homes, businesses and automobiles after Sandy have been closed;
  • More than $3.5 billion in flood insurance settlements have been paid to New Jersey residents and businesses, after the Christie Administration pressed federal leadership from the Flood Insurance and Mitigation Administration to pay out;
  • 69 percent – or 293 of the 425 – of mediation sessions have been settled as part of the Christie Administration’s mediation program to help residents cut through red tape.

PREPARING NEW JERSEY FOR FUTURE STORMS

As part of the long-term recovery strategy, the Christie Administration is committed to building back New Jersey better and stronger, and more prepared to withstand future storms.

  • Dune Construction. In September 2013, Governor Christie signed Executive Order No.140 to speed up dune construction to protect countless homes and businesses along New Jersey’s 127 miles of shoreline.
  • Sea Walls. In August 2013, Mantoloking and Brick received federal and state approval for a steel sea wall to provide secondary coastal storm protection as an integral part of the forthcoming federal beach and dune project.
  • Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. In October 2013, the Christie Administration announced $50 million to enable local and regional resiliency projects that will better protect the state in the event of a storm or other disaster.
  • NJ TransitGrid. In August 2013, Governor Christie partnered with the Obama Administration to design a microgrid to power the state’s infrastructure and NJ Transit during storms or other times when the traditional centralized grid is compromised.

HELPING THE MOST VULNERABLE MOVE FORWARD

The Christie Administration secured $226 million from the federal government as part of the Sandy Supplemental Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) – more than $86 million is already helping those in need. These funds are used for support services with a focus on physical and mental health, as well as the recovery needs of children and families. Some of the programs that have been rolled out include:

  • $57 million to help with living expenses for individuals and families still recovering financially from Sandy through the Working Families Living Expenses Voucher Program;
  • $10 million to help 8,000 vulnerable families connect with medical and social needs, including ahome visitation program that assists pregnant women, parents or other caregivers of families with young children in vulnerable populations;
  • Nearly $4.8 million for New Jersey’s domestic violence prevention and treatment programs;
  • Up to $4 million to community health centers, hospital clinics and ambulatory care centers to hire social workers or behavioral health specialists to screen individuals in  primary health care settings for domestic violence, substance abuse and behavioral health issues;
  • $3 million for county public health departments to coordinate health-related services to Sandy-impacted residents;
  • $2.89 million for the repair, replacement or installation of accessibility ramps at the Sandy-impacted homes of residents with disabilities;
  • $2.2 million for three studies to analyze the health effects and recovery status of New Jersey residents and recovery workers impacted by Superstorm Sandy;
  • $480,000 for the expansion of the Displaced Homemaker Program in Sandy-impacted counties;
  • $400,000 to the New Jersey Poison Information And Education System to continue availability and access to poison intervention specialists via telephone;
  • $118,000 to purchase portable radios for the 21 County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Coordinators to improve communication and coordination during emergencies when landline and cellphone systems fail.

Since last October, more than 200,000 residents have received assistance from New Jersey Hope and Healing, a hotline and counseling service launched by the state to assist with the healing process in the aftermath of Sandy.