Hurricane Sandy aftermath: death toll hits 50 and damage set to top $50 billion
The devastating aftermath of Hurricane Sandy was beginning to emerge as the death toll hit 50 and damage was expected to reach $50 billion.
As Frankestorm passed over the region, startling before-and-after pictures revealed what was left of the East Coast.
At first glance, New Jersey’s Mantoloking Bridge appeared to be completely different highways – until it becomes clear that just one solitary house was left standing.
Row after row of Atlantic vacation homes on the horizon were wiped out by the 900-mile storm following surging waters and winds which reached peaks of 95 mph.
The colossal scale of the devastation was mounting today as the death toll continued to rise – 50 people were dead in the wake of the storm but that number was expected to grow as rescue missions and clear-up continued.
The cost was originally estimated at around $20 billion but financial forecasters now expected it somewhere between $30 and $50 billion of damage.
Sandy will likely be among the ten costliest hurricanes in U.S. history. It would still be far below the worst – Hurricane Katrina, which cost $108 billion in 2005.
Insured losses were expected to reach up to $15 billion, according to NBC, before the additional toll of the damage done to uninsured buildings and infrastructure such as roads, bridges and transport systems.
However, experts said a slightly slower economy in the coming weeks will likely be matched by reconstruction and repairs that will contribute to growth over time.
Some of those losses won’t be easily made up. Restaurants that lose two or three days of business, for example, won’t necessarily experience a rebound later. And money spent to repair a home may lead to less spending elsewhere.
The storm cut power to more than eight million homes and shut down 70% of East Coast oil refineries. It inflicted worse-than-expected damage in the New York metro area – which produces about 10% of economic output in the U.S.
President Barack Obama, who will visit New Jersey tomorrow, declared the storm as a “major disaster” as submerged streets were littered with debris and downed power lines, homes were razed and a tanker had washed ashore.
Mantoloking Bridge leads to the Jersey Shore village of Brick Township, home to more than 76,100 people. Dozens of people have been rescued from roofs of properties where areas were flooded with at least 6 ft of seawater.
Barack Obama will join New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Wednesday for a helicopter tour of the ravaged state.
At press conference on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. EST Governor Chris Christie said: “It was an overwhelming afternoon for me – very emotional for a boy who was brought up in this state.”
He pledged to rebuild the Jersey Shore but said that a lot of it had been washed into the sea. Chris Christie confirmed that six had died in the state and told residents of the Garden State to “hang in”. He added that he didn’t want to guess the cost of the damage but believed it would run into billions.
New Jersey’s barrier islands were hit directly as Hurricane Sandy made landfall on Monday night and were left with colossal damage due to their exposed location on the open ocean.
The gambling mecca of Atlantic City was battered by the storm with the historic boardwalk left in splinters after it was smashed by waves and torn up by the wind. The city’s mayor Lorenzo Langford was denounced by Governor Chris Christie after he advised people not to evacuate and 500 had remained in flimsy shelters, only a block from the beach.
Chris Christie said on Monday that the decision was “stupid and selfish” because the precarious location of Atlantic City would place rescue workers in danger.
He said: “I feel badly for the folks in Atlantic City who listened to him and sheltered in Atlantic City, and I guess my anger has turned to sympathy for those folks, and we’re in the midst now of trying to go in and save them.”
The Jersey Shore appeared completely flattened in the before-and-after shots. And in Hoboken, an entire fleet of New York city’s iconic yellow cabs were almost entirely submerged by flood waters.
Around 120 miles to the south-west, New York City had its own pictorial record of the devastation.
A ferocious fire in Breezy Point, Queens, destroyed 111 homes. The New York Fire Department battled to save houses in a neighborhood that is home to hundreds of their fellow firefighters, plunging into neck-deep water and fighting winds to reach the raging inferno.
In Dumbo, Brooklyn, the painstakingly restored Jane’s Carousel, which is a popular tourist attraction in the area, was badly damaged by flood waters and cut off on its own little island in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Sandy, one of the biggest storms ever to hit the United States, roared ashore with fierce winds and heavy rain on Monday at 8:00 p.m. EST and forced evacuations, shut down transport and interrupted the presidential campaign.
New York City was all but closed off by car, train and air. The superstorm overflowed the city’s waterfront, flooded the financial district, subway tunnels and cut power to hundreds of thousands. Power is expected to be fully restored in Manhattan and Brooklyn within four days.
The New York Stock Exchange will reopen for regular trading on Wednesday after being shut down for two days.
Most homeowners who suffered losses from flooding won’t be able to benefit from their insurance policies.
Standard homeowner policies don’t cover flood damage, and few homeowners have flood insurance.
But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said they will offer help to borrowers whose homes were damaged or destroyed, who live in designated disaster areas and whose loans the mortgage giants own or guarantee.
Among other steps, mortgage servicers will be allowed to reduce the monthly payments of affected homeowners or require no payments from them temporarily.