One year ago on October 29, one of the most damaging hurricanes ever to hit the Northeast slammed the coasts of New Jersey and New York. The more than 900-mile-wide storm packed winds of 80 miles per hour. Hurricane Sandy destroyed or wrecked more than 650,000 homes, left 8.5 million people in 11 states without power, caused roughly $50 billion worth of damage, and killed at least 147 people in the U.S.
A hurricane is a storm that typically forms over the Atlantic Ocean, with winds of at least 74 miles per hour (mph). When Hurricane Sandy merged with another intense weather system last October, it became immense and was nicknamed Superstorm Sandy,
Almost immediately, volunteers from across the country came together to help those affected rebuild and recover. The American Red Cross and government agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) helped create shelters for thousands of people who had been displaced from their homes. Donations of food, clothing, and more poured in from across the U.S. Billions of dollars’ worth of federal aid and money from state-run and other programs has helped many people rebuild their homes and businesses. And slowly, communities are starting to bounce back.
To mark the one-year anniversary of the historic storm, residents across the Northeast will gather on October 29 to remember those who lost their lives in the hurricane and the communities changed by it. In the evening, residents of New Jersey and New York City’s Staten Island will light candles and flashlights along waterfront communities. About 40 Staten Island businesses that were damaged in the storm will host a block party that same day to celebrate their reopening. And residents of Union Beach, New Jersey—where more than 85 percent of homes were flooded—will hold a vigil to show the world they are still fighting.
Many people are commemorating the anniversary by volunteering. Earlier this month, thousands of people planted trees to replace those uprooted in a park in Rockaway, a New York coastal community heavily damaged by Sandy. On October 23, more than 150 volunteers (including many high school students) helped build a new playground in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. And sophomores from Wilton High School in Connecticut are holding a book drive to help replace hundreds of books lost at the Scholars’ Academy in Rockaway Park, New York.
EAST COAST COMEBACK
Yet the recovery is far from over. A famous boardwalk in Seaside Heights is still being rebuilt after a September 12 fire that started in wiring that Sandy had damaged. The fire burned nearly five blocks of the boardwalk. Coastal communities in New York’s Long Island still have remnants of Sandy’s destruction. And at least 26,000 people in New Jersey remain unable to return to their homes.
But many vow that the communities affected by Sandy will come back stronger than ever.
“We have a lot of hope,” says Mayor Paul Smith of Union Beach, New Jersey. “And we’re going to get back.”