(NEWARK, NJ) — On the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey towns and residents across the state still face $28.3 billion in unmet recovery needs, according to a new report from Rutgers-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration.
The report finds that the storm cost New Jersey more than $37.1 billion statewide, including $13.6 billion in direct physical and economic damage, plus $23.5 billion in remediation costs. Recovery assistance has met only a fraction of these costs, according to the report’s author, Rutgers University Assistant Professor Stephanie Hoopes Halpin, Ph.D. Through this report, Halpin reveals that damage was far more widespread than has been understood to date, stretching beyond the coastal communities and disproportionately affecting low- and moderate-income families.
“We believe this is the most comprehensive cost analysis of the storm so far,” said Marc Holzer, Founding Dean of the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers-Newark. "It was our goal to give the state objective data that can be used to learn from Sandy and improve the state’s disaster response in the future."
Measures were developed by Halpin that examine Sandy’s impact through a wide range of factors, bringing to light gaps in emergency response and assistance. The report is based on data from a variety of sources, including state and federal government, NJ 2-1-1, utility companies and a new joint Rutgers and New Jersey League of Municipalities survey of local government officials and community leaders. The report was sponsored by The Fund for New Jersey and United Way of Northern New Jersey.
The new measures show that in addition to Monmouth and Ocean counties, economic and physical damage was also felt deep into the middle and northern parts of the state, such as in Somerset, Middlesex and Union counties.
The hardest hit towns were Mantoloking in Ocean County and Moonachie in Bergen County, according to the report. The 35 towns with the most significant impact are spread out across 11 of the state’s counties.
"This analysis helps us understand the full range of damage in New Jersey and shows whether the resources available adequately meet the needs," said Kiki Jamieson, president of The Fund for New Jersey. "This report opens the door for wide-ranging conversations about how to improve our state’s readiness for and response to future events. From what is reported here, particular attention should to be paid to the needs of ALICE residents.”
In addition to the impact on many towns, the report finds that more than half of the 1.1 million low-income and ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households across the state were dealt a severe blow in residential damage as well as lost wages and added expenses from the power outages and gas shortage. The $1.7 billion in recovery assistance received by these households so far is woefully short of the $4.1 billion in overall costs.
"Low-income and ALICE families were disproportionately impacted by Sandy," Halpin said, "incurring more than half of all residential damage, but receiving less than 30 percent of the recovery assistance." The majority of these families – already struggling to afford basic necessities such as housing and food – did not have homeowners or flood insurance, according to the report.
Low-income and ALICE families faced the greatest hardship in Hudson County, followed closely by Bergen, Monmouth, Middlesex, Ocean and Essex counties.
"This report reminds us that the well-being of our state’s economy is directly tied to this very vulnerable ALICE population,” said United Way of Northern New Jersey CEO John Franklin. "I hope this research brings to light the urgency of helping ALICE recover, as that will ultimately help all our residents.”
For a full copy of the report, visit http://njdatabank.newark.rutgers.edu/special-sandy. Municipal level data is also available on http://njdatabank.newark.rutgers.edu/profilecomparison.
About Rutgers-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA)
The School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) at Rutgers-Newark educates and motivates students to choose careers in public service and administration through its innovative and comprehensive undergraduate (BA), Master of Public Administration (MPA), Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA), PhD, and professional and graduate certificate programs. The school’s faculty generates knowledge and best practices in public service and administration, and collaborates with public and nonprofit sector organizations and professionals throughout the U.S. and the world. Guided by the principles of knowledge, competence, diversity, and service – with an emphasis on public service values and competencies for effective performance – SPAA promotes accountability, transparency, and performance in the public and nonprofit sectors. Visit: http://spaa.newark.rutgers.edu.
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Stephanie Hoopes Halpin, PhD
Rutgers-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration