NEWS | Oct. 29, 2013

Hurricane Sandy struck a year ago but recovery is ongoing

By David Vergun Army News Service

WASHINGTON - Hurricane Sandy stormed ashore in Brigantine, N.J., on Oct. 29, 2012.

The storm carved a swath of destruction from Florida to Maine and its fury was felt as far inland as the Appalachian Mountains, and out to Michigan and Wisconsin.

"We had to be ready to respond big and fast - so the National Guard deployed in multiple states, creating ground task forces in advance of Hurricane Sandy,” said Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau.

In the aftermath, more than 9,100 Citizen-Soldiers and - Airmen had boots on the ground across 12 states. Dual status commanders were appointed to oversee and coordinate military response operations in affected areas in New Jersey and New York.

The Guard personnel helped distribute more than 1.6 million meals, 747,396 bottles of water and 100,000 blankets to affected residents in New York alone, according to a 2012 article following Sandy.

Now, one year later, rebuilding and recovery continues.

"Although it took only a matter of hours for Hurricane Sandy to cause widespread damage throughout the region, recovering from the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history and improving coastal storm damage risk reduction will be a long and complex task," said Brig. Gen. Kent D. Savre, commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, North Atlantic Division.

Savre's North Atlantic Division included the worst-hit areas along the coast, from New Jersey through New England.

Disaster response efforts and relief during Sandy were well executed, Savre said, because the corps was able to depend on lessons learned during previous hurricanes.

Once the threat was realized and before the hurricane came ashore, the corps went into action, standing up emergency operations centers, lowering water behind dams, issuing sandbags and pre-positioning drinking water and generators.

Once the storm came ashore, the corps removed 475 million gallons of salt water from New York City alone and installed generators in hospitals, police stations and other critical locations for first responders. The corps also assisted the Coast Guard in rebuilding battered port facilities.

Once the rescue and recovery work was completed, the corps entered the risk mitigation phase.

The corps' efforts were helped by Congress, which passed the 2013 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act in January. Of the $60 billion provided for disaster relief agencies, the corps was given $5 billion.

As of this month, the corps is involved with some 200 projects and studies, from Florida to Maine, and inland to Ohio, but mostly in the North Atlantic Division. The work centers on river navigation, replacement sand for beach erosion and protection from storms in the form of levees, sea walls, and breakwaters.

Over the past year, the corps also partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies to produce maps that show the greatest risk for storm surge and damage. The maps will help local planners know where to rebuild and zone to mitigate future risk.