February 13, 2013

New report documents costly toll of Sandy

In the past 40 years, only Katrina exceeded the storm that pounded the Northeastern region.

The Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. — Superstorm Sandy was the deadliest hurricane in the northeastern U.S. in 40 years and the second-costliest in the nation's history, according to a report released Tuesday.

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Jakeabob’s Bay restaurant in Union Beach, N.J., is just one example of the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy.

The Associated Press

The storm's effects reached far and wide, according to the National Hurricane Center report. While Sandy visited devastation on the East Coast, principally New Jersey and New York, it created wind gusts as far west as Wisconsin and as far north as Canada and caused water levels to rise from Florida to Maine, the center found.

The hurricane center attributed 72 U.S. deaths directly to Sandy, from Maryland to New Hampshire. That is more than any hurricane to affect the northeastern U.S. since Hurricane Agnes killed 122 people in 1972, according to the center's records covering 1851 to 2010.

The report counted at least 87 other deaths that were indirectly tied to Sandy, from causes such as hypothermia due to power outages, carbon monoxide poisoning and accidents during cleanup efforts.

The deadliest hurricane in U.S. history hit Galveston, Texas, in 1900 and killed 8,000 to 12,000 people.

Tuesday's report estimated damage caused by Sandy at $50 billion, greater than any U.S. hurricane except Katrina, which in 2005 caused $108 billion in damage, or $128 billion adjusted to 2012 dollars. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 caused $26.5 billion in damage in Florida, or the equivalent of $44 billion today.

The damage and fatality estimates are in line with previous figures compiled by states and the federal government.

The report says Sandy began as a tropical wave off the coast of Africa on Oct. 11. By the time it reached landfall in southern New Jersey its diameter was about 1,000 miles.

The storm packed hurricane-force winds when it hit New Jersey but had already been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone and morphed into a hybrid storm merged with two other cold-weather systems.

More than 650,000 U.S. homes were damaged or destroyed by the storm, and more than 8 million customers lost power, according to the report.

Peak rainfall measured just under 13 inches in Bellevue on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

 

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