by CATHERINE GOODYEAR, Staff Writer
Oct. 29, 2012.
For most people in our country this was a Monday just like any other, but for residents along the East Coast, specifically New Jersey and New York, it was a day that changed people’s lives.
Three years later, Hurricane Sandy still has lasting effects on the lives of MC students who were hit hard by the storm.
Hurricane Sandy ripped through the shore as if it were a piece of paper. The wave surges took out homes and sucked them into the Atlantic Ocean.
Boats lifted off their cinder blocks were floating down the streets crashing into houses as if they were wrecking balls. The water was so high it covered the roofs of cars and washed them away.
The iconic Jet Star rollercoaster at the boardwalk of Seaside Heights was washed away and remained in the Atlantic Ocean as a symbol of destruction until it was removed six months later.
People were not allowed to return to their own homes due to damage. Guards with guns were standing at check points because looters were scuba-diving into the remains of houses to take whatever they can find.
T-shirts, sweatshirts and magnets came out with sayings like ‘Restore the Shore’ and ‘Stronger than the Storm.’ For some people it was a fashion trend and after a few months they forgot all about it, for others, it was their life.
Most schools were shut down for at least two weeks, and the power was not restored for two weeks or longer. Certain towns have a well water system which relies on electricity, so when the power went out, so did the water.
One week after Hurricane Sandy, there was an early season snow fall that brought up to 13.5 inches in certain areas in New Jersey. The lack of heat, electricity and water along with the unsafe road conditions made it difficult for people to obtain basic resources.
“I live on Long Island and the areas close by were severely damaged,” Priya Sachdeva said.
“I’m lucky that I don’t live as out east as other people. My basement windows shattered and our fences were gone but others weren’t as lucky. A lot of the areas are still getting repaired. Trees are being knocked down, parks are being repaired, and my high school’s newest wing is being completely rebuilt. I have a friend who lives farther east and they still haven’t received compensation.”
The months following the storm was heavily covered by the media. They showed the progress of the cleanup and the rebuild, but what they failed to show is the poorer neighborhoods who are still three years later living in the same conditions.
Yes the damage, dirt and debris has been cleared away, but the situation has been on a stand-still for months, or even years. Some roads have been temporarily “filled in,” but not completely repaved. Houses are still waiting to be knocked down, people are still not back in their old homes and the boardwalk would never been the same.
According to The Weather Channel, more than 8,000 homeowners remain active in New Jersey’s main rebuilding grant program. Sixty-two out of the 355 damaged homes in Breezy Point, NY have yet to be rebuilt.
South Ferry’s subway station is intermittenly closed due to construction that is not expected to be completed until 2018. Waiting for the government to bail homeowners out of the mess that Sandy created seemed like a lost cause to many. Outside organizations, fundraisers and donations were what a large amount of families were forced to turn to.
“My family had a nonprofit organization called Tunnel to Towers that helped people rebuild homes, get construction done, found places for them to be relocated, gave them clothes, money, and anything that can get them back on their feet,” Olivia Siller said.
“We worked with that for a full year but after that it was continuously going for need based. I’m from Staten Island and the south shore was affected really badly. Some parts still haven’t been rebuilt because it was just too damaged and they had to be knocked down.”
“I felt like it was up to outside organizations to take charge because the government couldn’t put too much money into one place but I do think they could have helped more. We were working for 24 hours at a time in shifts and it still took 3 to 4 months to clear out the damage and destruction but, the repairing and rebuilding is still going on.”
Three years later, New Jersey’s beach reconstruction and protection project is still far from being complete.
According to NJ.com, True Jersey, state Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said, “The state is ready to file eminent domain claims against some 40 or 50 oceanfront property owners in Mantoloking, Brick and Toms River within the next month. The court action may also involve complaints against one or two property owners in Point Pleasant Beach and Bay Head at the same time.”
Since Sandy, the flood zone lines were reevaluated and people who never had flooding in their homes are now required to either pay monthly flood insurance or raise their house from six to 13 feet.
“I had a shore house in Ocean City, New Jersey. It received damage and was required to be knocked down and rebuilt,” Erica Cellucci said. “When we rebuilt it, we had to put it on stilts six feet high. When the construction was finished, we had to sell the house.”
Despite these circumstances, Sandy also brought out the best in people. Neighbors came together to get through the situation and help each other out, either through formal fundraising, organized volunteer effors or just lending a neighborly hand.
“My family was pretty afraid. One of my brother’s best friends from middle school died with his father in their basement,” Anthony Fischetti said.
“When I volunteered three years ago, it was mostly government run programs but the local community helped. Staten Islanders have, for the most part, a very strong sense of community and solidarity with one another. Different organization held various benefit events for the families most afflicted.”
Even many of those not directly impacted by the storm were moved to provide assistance in some fashion.
“I’m from Baltimore, Maryland, so I did not get affected but I helped raise money through fundraisers on Facebook,” Amber Williamson said.
“My family also worked with the Lavallette and Patterson Rotary Clubs to raise money for people who were displaced. Many people were living in hotels for months.”
Communities came together, donated Thanksgiving dinners and gave out supplies. Although it’s three years later and the shores haven’t fully recovered, Americans came together and conquered the hardest part.