Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Five years after the hurricane known as Superstorm Sandy ravaged the northeast coast of the United States, communities and officials across the region are gathering to remember those lost in the storm.
Hurricane Sandy was responsible for 147 direct deaths in the Northeast United States, Canada, and the Caribbean, according to the National Hurricane Center. In addition to the human toll, the storm brought devastating winds and flooding to coastal areas, leaving many people little with which to rebuild.
Half a decade later, at the end of another particularly destructive hurricane season, a number of vigils and fund raising events will be held.
The Staten Island Interfaith and Community Long Term Recovery Organization will host the fifth annual Light the Shore vigil at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Participants will raise funds for those impacted by recent Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars of Oakwood also will hold a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. for Sandy victims and invite guest speakers to share how the storm impacted their lives.
Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addressed dozens of first responders Tuesday at a National Guard Armory warehouse in West Orange where he praised the police officers, administration officials and National Guard members for their personal sacrifices during the storm.
"You provided extraordinary leadership that has been, and will remain, mostly unseen, ... written about [or] acknowledged, but that doesn't mean it's unappreciated," Christie said. "[New Jerseyans] know it was just more than me and the lieutenant governor who were doing these things."
Sandy made landfall in the United States as a post-tropical cyclone near Brigantine, N.J., and its massive size resulted in catastrophic storm surge on the New Jersey and New York coastlines.
The storm left millions without power as businesses and schools shut down, and the New York Stock Exchange experienced a rare off-calendar closure.
The U.S. Geological Survey found that Sandy eroded 30 years worth of sand at beaches in parts of New York.
Preliminary damage estimates in the United States neared $50 billion, making it the second costliest cyclone since 1900.
Thousands of people were left in need of housing after the powerful storm severely damaged homes and neighborhoods.
Some, like a group of women from the Saint Bernard's Project, are still working to rebuild homes along the Jersey Shore five years later.
"So right now we're working on about 20 houses, that are active in construction, and working to get about another 30 families into our construction pipeline," SBP director Kevin McGee told New Jersey's News12.
June Jeffers, one of the volunteers, said it's no surprise that some are still not back in their homes half a decade after Sandy.
"People go on with their lives, they're busy and they just don't know what's going on out there," she said. "But it is programs like this that really make a difference."