PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Today marks the seventh anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. The deadly storm pummeled the Jersey Shore and other parts of the Northeast with heavy rain and winds of up to 115 mph.
Twelve people were killed in New Jersey.
The storm caused widespread destruction, costing about $37 billion.
Seven years after the storm slammed into some shore towns like Ventnor, there are many homes that are still not repaired, with residents still continuing to live in limbo.
New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs says about 700 people in the post-Sandy rebuilding program have still not completed work to their homes.
Several people who attended a rally in Ventnor were victims of fraud and had to have their home repaired more than once, forcing them to live in and out of hotels and apartments for the last seven years.
For them, today’s anniversary is a reminder of rebuilding frustrations that have not gone away.
“Well, seven years ago we were hit with Superstorm Sandy and it was devastating to our entire community. We’re all trying to rebuild. A lot of us had stumbling blocks along the way like contractor fraud and various issues, and by the time those were resolved, the funding, the gap funding, went away,” Beth Torsiello said. “Our insurance doesn’t cover enough to actually rebuild the house.”
Others like Fran Baronowitz are facing what are known as “clawbacks,” where the government wants them to pay back Sandy recovery money they may have applied for inappropriately.
“They want over $35,000 from me,” Baronowitz said.
Torsiello and Baronowitz attended the rally in Ventnor as Gov. Phil Murphy announced a new interagency council on climate resilience to develop a statewide strategy.
Over the last seven years, the federal government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to strengthen coastal communities by building up 127 miles of dunes along the Jersey Shore.
Many shore leaders say the next step is addressing back bay flooding, especially in light of climate change and sea level rise.
“The climate is changing, it is warming and you can argue forever why it’s occurring but it’s pretty obvious to anybody with common sense that’s occurring. And we’re going to have to provide for it,” Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said.
An estimated 346,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in the storm.