Sandy’s Coastal Damage

News from the Ground: Diversity of Sandy’s Coastal Damage

Excerpt from Article Posted by Karl Johnson on Nov 11, 2012 by Architecture for Humanity

Last week the Disaster Team and New York City Chapter toured nearly 140 miles of the New Jersey and New York coastlines to get a firsthand sense of the damage wrought late last month by Hurricane Sandy, and assessing the highest priorities in long-term reconstruction.

The overall impression: recovery will be complex. Damage along the coast is pocketed, with separate conditions from neighborhood to neighborhood, or even house to house. This condition sets the Eastern Seaboard apart from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which was vast and total.

Working class communities were the hardest hit, and will have the most trouble recovering. The Wall Street Journal reports that, with a couple exceptions, at least half of damaged residences in most towns are uninsured against floods, and only 1% of damaged homes in New York are insured against flood damage.

This update highlights four different circumstances of damage that last week’s tour helped uncover. In the next few weeks, the New York City Chapter of Architecture for Humanity will conduct further assessments and mapping.

SEASIDE HEIGHTS / BARRIER ISLANDS

The barrier islands of New York and New Jersey took the brunt of Sandy’s impact. On top of some of the most extensive damage, the very nature of these islands makes them difficult to rebuild. Yet towns have populated these scenic destination spots, and the local economy depends on tourism to survive.

In Seaside Heights, 3000 people constitute the town’s permanent population, but the seasonal number swells to 100,000 – especially during holiday weekends and over the Summer.

The Seaside Heights boardwalk – the town’s economic engine – was completely destroyed by the storm. Most businesses along the boardwalk were also damaged or destroyed. The surge essentially pushed all the way across the barrier island, leaving an inundation of water and sand. One resident told our Team that 200 feet inland, he and his neighbors were digging out from beneath five feet of displaced sand. Only half the residents of Seaside Heights have flood insurance.

The residents of Seaside Heights are anxious, and hope for a rapid recovery. The absence of one season of business along the Boardwalk could mean bankruptcy for the town.

 

Read the full report highlighting effects on other areas by the storm OR donate to the recovery effort:

http://architectureforhumanity.org/updates/2012-11-11-news-from-the-ground-diversity-of-sandys-coastal-damage

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