The Year in Review 2012: Superstorm Sandy devastates New York, New Jersey

Dec. 25, 2012 at 4:30 AM
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As the mammoth storm churned in the Atlantic in the days leading up to Halloween as part hurricane, part Nor'easter, forecasters dubbed it "Frankenstorm."

The devastation it would wreak on some of the most densely populated places in the United States did away with the clever nickname. Now, millions of coastal residents in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut will remember 2012 as the year of Sandy.

Officially, Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City, N.J., as a Category 1 hurricane about 8 p.m. Oct. 29. It was downgraded to a tropical storm shortly thereafter, but the sustained 80 mph winds and powerful storm surge wiped away many of the iconic boardwalks lining the Jersey Shore. It destroyed coastal homes and knocked out power to more than 8.5 million people in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

The lights of Broadway -- indeed most of the lights in Manhattan -- went dark.

Staten Island and a coastal neighborhood in Queens -- the Rockaways -- were particularly hard-hit. The storm sparked a fire in another Queens neighborhood that laid waste to more than 100 homes.

In all, Sandy was blamed for 132 fatalities in the United States. Sandy was a killer storm well before then, however. As it passed through the Caribbean, 60 lives were lost.

The federal government estimates Sandy caused $71 billion in total damage.

The storm played a role in the nation's impending election. President Barack Obama, then locked in a tight race with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, earned political points in the storm's immediate aftermath, canceling campaign events in battleground states first to manage the federal response in Washington, and later to make a much-talked-about tour of the Garden State with top Romney ally, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Christie heaped praise on Obama's handling of the storm at the same, calling his leadership "outstanding" and the two were photographed and recorded at multiple stops shaking hands, hugging and trading compliments as they met with storm victims and the press -- a stark difference from the rhetorical bombs Christie had been lobbing at Obama just days before.

"It's been a great working relationship," Christie said. "I cannot thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state."

When asked by Fox News about the storm's bipartisan aftermath and whether he would embark on a similar tour with Romney, Christie responded tersely: "I have no idea. Nor am I the least bit concerned or interested."

In the weeks after the storm, both Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have lobbied lawmakers in Washington to authorize billions in recovery aide from the Federal Emergency Management System.

The New York Times said Obama plans to ask Congress to authorize $50 billion in aid for affected states though that amount is far less than what Cuomo and Christie had sought for each of their states alone. The Obama administration has not confirmed that amount.

Cuomo has said New York needs $50 billion alone to make repairs. In total, officials in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have asked for $82 billion.

"While $50 billion is a significant amount of money, it unfortunately does not meet all of New York and New Jersey's substantial needs," Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York and Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, all Democrats, said in a joint statement released Dec. 5.

"The administration is working closely with our partners in the states and in Congress and is in the process of developing a request for a supplemental" spending plan, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said. "But that process has not been completed and it would be premature to speculate on a specific number or even on a numerical range."

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