On Two-Year Anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Vulnerabilities Still on Display

October 30, 2014 by No Comments

Hurricane Sandy destruction

On Hurricane Sandy’s two-year anniversary, a return to normalcy still seems like a far-off notion for many of the people living in areas throughout the Northeast hit by the storm.

The streets of the Rockaway neighborhood in Queens, New York City, whose historic boardwalk had been washed away by the hurricane, is still lined with derelict, run-down houses. Many residents, who couldn’t afford the $3,000 to $5,000 it costs to repair a foundation damaged by water — let alone the cost of rebuilding their entire home — left Rockaway, along with other areas of New Jersey and New York that saw a collective $71 billion in structural damages during the hurricane.

For some homeowners who stayed, waiting for aid from programs like Build it Back, which helps people rebuild their homes, has been a neverending struggle due to an increasingly complex web of bureaucratic limitations surrounding Hurricane Sandy aid initiatives.

“We are in worse shape now than we were two years ago,” Christina Steier, whose Staten Island home was all but destroyed in the hurricane, told SILive.com. “We were approved for a grant from Build it Back to elevate the home, because they (the city) said it should have never been a two-family home … but we haven’t received any money yet.”

And even though some neighborhoods are beginning to rebound with new constructions, the International Business Times reports that they’re not being rebuilt to withstand the increasingly apparent threat of similar storms that will result from climate change.

“Sandy reminded us that the unexpected can and does happen … and that the unexpected is going to be happening more often in the future,” Radley M. Horton, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, told the International Business Times.

New real estate developments throughout coastal areas largely lack features that would protect them from future storms, such as wetlands restoration and concrete floodgates, the International Business Times reports. And existing homes and buildings have largely been rebuilt with just enough repair work to make the dwellings livable again.

Climate change experts estimate it won’t take another storm as powerful as Hurricane Sandy to cause the same amount of damage — so it might not be long before the Northeast is hit with even more devastation.

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