Long Beach (WALK) - Most of us never would have imagined having to wait on an hours-long line to buy gas, but one year ago today, that's exactly what Long Islanders were about to experience.
Today is the one-year anniversary of superstorm Sandy, one of the worst storms to ever hit the region and certainly one of the most unusual. Hurricane Sandy combined with a series of cold fronts as it approached the northeast, giving it size, power and a storm surge unlike anything most of us had ever seen, including many experts. Some described it as a snow storm wrapped around a hurricane.
For most Long Islanders, the drama lasted only until our power came back on and lines at gas stations finally disappeared. Life is still not back to normal, however, in the shoreline communities that were hardest-hit by Sandy. Homes remain vacant and in various stages of rebuilding in Lindenhurst, Freeport, Fire Island (pictured at left) and elsewhere, while empty lots stand where other homes were demolished after being damaged beyond repair.
In Long Beach, 20% of the homes remain uninhabitable and Long Beach Hospital is still closed because of storm damage. The city has stayed strong, however, and had a dedication ceremony just last week for its new boardwalk. The historic original boardwalk was destroyed by the storm.
For those who lost their homes, the help keeps coming, although not as quickly as many would have liked. Just yesterday, the American Red Cross announced a grant of over $2-million to help with rebuilding on Long Island. It will be distributed by the local United Way and the Community Development Corporation, to assist with things like mold remediation. The federal government, however, has only released about $700 million of the roughly $60 billion in storm recovery aid that was promised.
One victim that won't be making a comeback after Sandy is LIPA, which left thousands of Long Islanders without power for two weeks and more after the storm hit, thanks to outdated technology and inadequate storm preparation. Sandy marked the beginning of the end for LIPA, which will be all but dissolved on January 1st. That's when the New Jersey-based power company PSEG will take over management of Long Island's power grid.
Photo: Chris Ragazzo/FEMA