LODI, N.J. – Ten years after Superstorm Sandy struck, we’re taking a look back at how it spurred change in New Jersey, where millions lost power and thousands their homes.
At commemoration events Friday, state leaders reflected on how the disaster made them more prepared for future storms.
The images of Sandy are hard to forget even a decade later — tens of thousands of homes destroyed, the Jersey Shore decimated.
Michael Thorry remembers tidal surge sweeping away the steps inside his Little Ferry home.
“My ex-wife called and said ‘You ready to swim?’ And we did. She picked us up in a pick-up truck,” Thorry said, adding the water had almost risen to his chest.
“And you swam through it all?” CBS2’s Christina Fan asked.
“Yeah, we had to,” Thorry said.
In the last ten years as families rebuilt, the state also made huge investments strengthening critical infrastructure. In Monmouth County Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy toured the Port Monmouth flood protection project, where levees, floodwalls and pump stations aim to prevent future disaster.
“The $265 million project will harden our defenses against future tidal surges,” Murphy said.
There’s more federal funding on the way. Over $13 billion from Congress’ infrastructure bill has been set aside to help New Jersey prepare for future climate disasters.
“The legislation also provides much-needed investment to repair our crumbling roads, bridges and rails and our public transit, investments in water systems and broadband connectivity,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer.
But advocates argue the work’s not over, especially when it comes to storm recovery.
“We have to reform the system that disaster survivors go through, because we are right now leaving people out to be hung dry,” said Amanda Devecka-Rinear of New Jersey Organizing Project.
Murphy says at least 151 New Jersey families still haven’t been able to rebuild, and hundreds more are stuck in financial limbo, forced by the government to repay all or some of the relief money they received.