Two Years After Sandy, New Jersey Prepared For The Next Storm

It has been more than two years since Hurricane Sandy struck the New Jersey coast, causing billions in damage and displacing tens of thousands of residents. While many have managed to rebuild in the 24 months since the storm, many others are still struggling to get back to normal.

Unfortunately, how long their struggles will go on continues to be an open question. While New Jersey house lifting projects surge forward, infrastructure repairs continue to happen along the coast, and homes are being rebuilt, the sheer scale of the storm means that the process just isn’t happening as fast as people initially imagined it would.

At a press conference held in October 2014 in Seaside Heights, Governor Chris Christie said he realizes the rebuilding effort has stretched on longer than people would like. “It seems like a lot longer than two years. This has been a long, long two years and a long struggle. Time doesn’t move as quickly as we might like it to.”

Perhaps the greatest difficulty in this process has been knowing that the region still isn’t prepared for another such storm.

Two years after the storm, the Asbury Park Press reported that “low-lying areas remain at great risk from powerful nor’easters and hurricanes. These areas include northern Ocean County and much of Long Beach Island, Barnegat Bay shorelines, the Monmouth County Bayshore and any places lacking large dunes and wide beaches, according to experts. Property worth billions of dollars remain in jeopardy.”

This is the reason why house lifting in NJ, a once rare service few people knew about, is booming.

In the wake of the storm, people are learning that the best way to avoid disasters like the one Sandy brought us is preparedness. That means a good evacuation plan, NJ house lifting to rise above future floods, better sea wall protection, and other measures. On the two-year anniversary of the storm, Frances Beinecke, president of the NRDC, wrote in the Huffington Post, “Many residents now recognize that climate change makes us more vulnerable to higher storm surges, frequent flooding and other extreme events. We have to brace for this new reality, and fortunately, we have begun.”

Even in Brooklyn, property owners are zeroing in on the benefits of lifting a property to protect it from future storms. Brooklyn homeowner Bill Burns told the Weather Channel, while watching his house being lifted four feet higher, “This is going to make this house a lot safer to live in.”

Other measures being used to better prepare for the Sandys of the future include bolstering the shore region with reinforced dune systems. These dunes are more difficult for a storm surge to breach, and if they are breached they will be less likely to be swept away entirely, keeping damage to a more limited area. This was a lesson learned in places like Mantoloking, where storm surges created a new inlet on the barrier island and wiped out entire communities.

For now, people are still focused on rebuilding. If that rebuilding comes with the better preparedness of improved dunes, NJ house raising, and other projects, the Shore region will be much better off.