New York City (NYC)
Dubbed by many as a superstorm, the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy was one of the most devastating in NYC's history. Sandy began its journey northward from the Caribbean a tropical storm, wreaking havoc on its path through Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas. On October 29, 2012, at around 8pm, Atlantic City, New Jersey was struck by the eye of the storm. A super moon, or the ‘Perigee Syzygy’ coincided with the storm and brought with it dangerously high tides. Combined with the wind speeds of 80mph, rising water level and heavy rainfall, Sandy was very destructive to many of New York’s coastal areas. Prior to landfall in New York Sandy was downgraded from hurricane status to a post tropical cyclone.
In Zone A, a mandatory evacuation was issued for the second time in New York history. Those who waited too long to evacuate had to be rescued by NYC emergency response teams. Flooding devastated many parts of the city, with storm surges causing water to rise as high as 13.88 feet. Sandy is one of the most costly natural disasters to date, and was estimated to have cost NYC an excess of $19 billion to repair. Funding for the cleanup effort was paid with the aid of the Federal Government through Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and insurance claims.
Airlines serving New York canceled thousands of flights in preparation for Sandy. The MTA discontinued all services prior to the storm’s arrival, and made sure to barricade most subway stations that were in danger of flooding. Despite these efforts, many stations were flooded. Numerous subway lines remained closed for days while emergency repairs were made. With debris and downed trees blocking streets, it was difficult to move around in automobiles. A regional gas shortage further disrupted the morning commute, as many New Yorkers were forced to stand in two hour lines at gas stations.
Power outages plagued many NYC neighborhoods. One such power outage occurred at the Con Edison Plant on 14th street and plunged downtown Manhattan into darkness. The lack of electricity made normally peaceful neighborhoods unsafe after sundown. Battery Park was flooded by 13 feet of water, and downed trees lined the streets of Manhattan. In Queens, 37 blocks (3 miles) of the historic Rockaway boardwalk were shredded to pieces. In Breezy Point, Queens, many homes were destroyed by a fire. A tanker ship was found washed ashore on a Staten Island beach. Forty two confirmed deaths were reported for New York; a majority of them took place in Staten Island.
NYC set up 73 shelters throughout the five boroughs to house evacuees. Approximately 6,700 people were housed in these shelters during the storm. In New York alone, 800,000 people lost power. Some people residing in the hardest hit areas lived without electricity for months after the disaster occurred. To accommodate people in these circumstances, the city created a food and water distribution task force to assist those in need. Although many people were dissatisfied with the way Sandy was handled by city officials, a great deal has been done since the hurricane to assist those still affected. In January 29, 2013, the Disaster Relief Appropriation Act was signed into law by President Obama. It provided $16 billion for the recovery of communities affected by the Hurricane Sandy disaster.