Sandy packed US$62b punch in US, Caribbean

Published: Friday | November 30, 2012 Comments 0
Water flows past debris from a destroyed house in Mantoloking, New Jersey, after superstorm Sandy caused the ocean to cut a channel through to the bay. - File
Water flows past debris from a destroyed house in Mantoloking, New Jersey, after superstorm Sandy caused the ocean to cut a channel through to the bay. - File

Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on parts of the United States East Coast a month ago Thursday after tearing through the Caribbean at hurricane strength.

In the weeks since, the storm's scope has come into sharper focus.

Sandy killed at least 125 people in the United States. That includes 60 in New York - 48 of them in New York City - 34 in New Jersey and 16 in Pennsylvania. At least seven people died in West Virginia, where the storm dropped heavy snow, and killed 71 people in the Caribbean, including 54 in Haiti.

Sandy is being blamed for about US$62 billion in damage and other losses in the US, the vast majority of it in New York and New Jersey - a number that could increase.

It's the second-costliest storm in US history after 2005's Hurricane Katrina, which caused US$128 billion in damage in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Sandy caused at least US$315 million in damage in the Caribbean.

It damaged or destroyed homes and businesses, more than 72,000 in New Jersey alone, Governor Chris Christie said Wednesday.

In Cuba, the number of damaged homes has been estimated at 130,000 to 200,000.

DISASTER AID

New York is seeking US$42 billion in federal aid, including about US$9 billion for projects to head off damage in future storms.

New Jersey is seeking nearly US$37 billion in aid, including US$7.4 billion for future projects. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg met with congressional leaders Wednesday to encourage quick action on storm aid.

The National Hurricane Center now says tropical force winds extended 820 miles at their widest, down from an earlier estimate of 1,000 miles.

Sandy's pure kinetic energy for storm surge and wave "destruction potential" reached a 5.8 on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 0 to 6 scale, the highest measured.

Down the road, governments are seeking money to help head off future disasters, as climate scientists continue to predict rising sea levels and the potential for more bad storms.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo wants electrical transformers in commercial buildings hauled to upper floors; the ability to shutter key tunnels, airports and subways; and to require hospitals to have backup power on high ground instead of on lower floors or in basements.

- AP



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