Hurricane Sandy was classified as both a hurricane and a superstorm; twelve lives were taken, and more than $36 billion in damage to New Jersey, claiming pounds of sand from the beaches. Most coastal towns suffered beach erosion due to Sandy’s waves. Apparently, some beaches were thirty to forty feet narrower after the storm, while others in the extreme southern end of the state grew in size.

What comes to mind when I think of New Jersey (NJ) is Wildwood, NJ, and all the amazing food, fun, beach, and the Boardwalk on the Atlantic Ocean. Growing up in a Sicilian family in the 70’s, we traveled down to the Jersey Shore every summer for at least a few weeks. My grandmother had cousins in Pennsylvania who we would meet to camp together at King Nummy Campground in Wildwood. I can remember as far back as being pushed around in a stroller by my mother on the infamous Boardwalk.

Wildwood is a resort city on the New Jersey coast. It sits on a barrier island known for its wide, sandy beaches. The iconic Sightseer tram car runs along the long Wildwood Boardwalk, which is packed with eateries, shops, waterparks, and thrill rides.

While my sons were little, we also spent time on the East Coast each summer, but it was with family in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I am so eager to take them to the Boardwalk this summer, but I am also cautious in my thinking as I have heard some things have changed since Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey claimed homes, businesses, and a part of history back in October 2012.

According to CNN, “Superstorm Sandy made landfall over New Jersey on October 29, 2012. The storm surge destroyed homes, ripped apart piers on the Jersey Shore, and inundated subway and highway tunnels in New York.

Sandy was responsible for at least 72 deaths in the United States and caused an estimated $81.9 billion in damages. It was the fourth-costliest US storm behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and hurricanes Harvey and Maria in 2017, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,”.

Here are the stats:

Highest winds                 80 mph (130 km/h)
Highest gusts                  100 mph (155 km/h)
Lowest pressure            945 mbar (hPa); 27.91 inHg
Overall effects
Fatalities                            38 total (12 direct)
Economic losses           $36 billion (2012 USD)

Areas affected  New Jersey, particularly along the Jersey Shore in Ocean, Monmouth County. Furthermore, approximately 72,000 homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed by the storm.

Has New Jersey recovered from Hurricane Sandy?

Apparently, all the boardwalks that were destroyed were rebuilt within five years! Most beaches have been replenished as well. The businesses along the Jersey Shore faced the most significant economic disaster on record.

New Jersey’s remarkable resilience and strong community spirit played a crucial role in the recovery efforts post-Hurricane Sandy. The state mobilized resources swiftly, with government agencies, volunteers, and organizations working tirelessly to rebuild homes, businesses, and infrastructure.

The restoration of iconic boardwalks and beaches not only revived the tourism industry but also served as a symbol of hope and renewal for residents and visitors alike. The improved infrastructure, enhanced emergency preparedness, and collaborative initiatives have significantly bolstered New Jersey’s ability to withstand future storms. While challenges remain, the progress made demonstrates the state’s unwavering commitment to rebuilding stronger and safer communities.

The Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) suggested and is working on the following solutions for the State, “There is no one single solution that will protect New Jersey or any one community from the impacts of climate change and extreme weather. There is, however, a network of solutions. If pursued together and consistently over time, these solutions will promote community resilience and better protect people, property, and our economy from adverse climate impacts.

This network of climate and flood resilience solutions includes each of the following components, and more information on each is available below:

1. Climate Resilience Planning

2. Modernizing Standards

3. Enhancing Stormwater Management

4. Engineered Solutions

5. Blue Acres Buyouts,”.

Hurricane Sandy economic impact on New Jersey

After Sandy, those near higher surge areas, like retail establishments, saw eleven percent higher closure rates and a nine percent larger decline in sales revenue than establishments with less exposure to inundation. Closures were also concentrated among standalone establishments.

In an official document from the US Department of Commerce titled Economic Impact of Hurricane Sandy, “After adjusting for retail margins, the net decrease in local purchases (that is, within the state of New Jersey) from (hurricane) Sandy is estimated to be $828.6 million. Accommodations (hotels and lodging) and Food Services and Drinking places were most affected, with an estimated decline of $287.2 and $217 million, respectively. These two industries account for over 60 percent of Travel and Tourism losses in New Jersey. Purchases of recreational services that will not occur are estimated at $106.5 million or approximately 13 percent of the decline in tourism spending,”.

Wow, that’s a huge economic hit. And even though I love the state of NJ so very much, I love my home state of Michigan even more so. Why? Because we may not be free of all natural disasters, but at least we do not have to face the most disastrous natural occurrences like hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes. It’s a blessing to live in a state where one doesn’t have to constantly worry about the looming threat of such catastrophic events.

The comparison between the impact of Hurricane Sandy on New Jersey and the contrast in Michigan’s natural disaster profile is thought-provoking. While every state has its own set of challenges and unique characteristics, the resilience displayed by communities in the face of adversity is always commendable. It’s a testament to the strength and unity of the people affected by such calamities. I mean, we’re not called the Comeback City for nothing – Grit, baby! #OnePride

Our state #PureMichigan, is a shining example of resilience and grit in the face of adversity. Detroit has faced its fair share of challenges over the years, from economic downturns to urban decay, but its spirit of perseverance and determination, recovery and resurgence has never wavered. It just shows whether facing natural disasters or urban decay, the human spirit prevails.

Hurricane Sandy New Jersey damage

Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey in 2012, but the state’s resilience led to remarkable recovery efforts, rebuilding iconic boardwalks and beaches. Community spirit and preparedness are key to facing future challenges.

Photo Credit: By Anthony Quintano