Effects of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey

New Jersey was severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy, with economic losses to businesses of up to $30 billion. Sandy, the most intense storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, formed in the Caribbean Sea north of Panama on October 22, 2012. As it moved northward, the hurricane degenerated into a still-massive extratropical cyclone and made landfall on New Jersey on October 29.

Hurricane Sandy
Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Sandy Oct 29 2012 2015Z.png
Satellite image of Sandy at 4:15 p.m. EDT on October 29 as it was about to make landfall on the Jersey Shore
FormedOctober 28, 2012 (First rainbands begin to affect New Jersey)
DissipatedNovember 2, 2012 (Dissipated as extratropical cyclone)
(Extratropical after October 29)
Highest winds1-minute sustained: 80 mph (130 km/h)
Gusts: 100 mph (155 km/h)
Lowest pressure945 mbar (hPa); 27.91 inHg
FatalitiesAt least 37 total
Damage$30 billion (2012 USD)
(Estimated total economic loss[1])
Areas affectedNew Jersey (Jersey Shore)
Part of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season
Part of a series on Hurricane Sandy

Over two million households in the state lost power in the storm, 346,000 homes were damaged or destroyed,[2] and 37 people were killed. Storm surge and flooding affected a large swath of the state. Governor Chris Christie said the losses caused by Sandy were "going to be almost incalculable...The devastation on the Jersey Shore is probably going to be the worst we've ever seen."[3]


Airmen of the New Jersey Air National Guard 108th Wing prepare to go to assist at emergency shelters.

In Cape May County, New Jersey, officials advised residents on barrier islands to evacuate on October 26, becoming a mandatory evacuation on October 28. There was also a voluntary evacuation for Mantoloking, Bay Head, Barnegat Light, Beach Haven, Harvey Cedars, Long Beach, Ship Bottom, and Stafford in Ocean County.[4][5][6] Jersey Central Power & Light told employees to be prepared for extended shifts. Most schools, colleges, and universities were closed October 29 and at least 509 out of 580 school districts were closed October 30.[7][8]

Governor Chris Christie issued mandatory evacuations for all barrier islands from Sandy Hook to Cape May, along with the closure of all Atlantic City casinos. Tolls were suspended on the northbound Garden State Parkway and the westbound Atlantic City Expressway starting at 6:00 a.m. on October 28.[9] President Obama signed an emergency declaration for New Jersey. The declaration allows the state to request federal funding and other assistance for actions taken prior to Sandy's landfall.[10]

On October 28, Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer ordered an evacuation of all basement and street level residential units, due to possible flooding.[11] Similarly, Jersey City mayor Jerramiah Healy ordered an evacuation of all basement and 1st-floor units east of Greene Street, south of Columbus Drive, and east of Washington Boulevard north of Columbus Drive.[12] On October 29, a mandatory evacuation was put in effect for residents in some parts of Logan Township.[13]

In the early morning hours of October 29, PATH and New Jersey Transit services were suspended in preparation for the hurricane. Later that day, Sandy made landfall south of Atlantic City.[14]


Damage in Mantoloking

While moving ashore at Atlantic City, Sandy dropped heavy rainfall that reached 11.62 in (295 mm) in Wildwood Crest. Its landfall was accompanied by high winds, and the highest recorded wind gust in the state was 90 mph (140 km/h) at a station just across the border from Staten Island, New York.[15]

On October 31, Governor Christie welcomed President Obama to see the areas along the Jersey Shore, which was severely damaged.[16] That same day, Christie signed an executive order postponing Halloween until November 5.[17]

On November 1, Governor Christie lifted mandatory evacuation orders in Atlantic and Cape May counties.[18]

The Driftwood Cabana Club alongside NJ 36 in Sea Bright that was toppled due to Sandy

It was announced on November 5 that the Coast Guard recovered 780,000 gallons (1,102,061 liters) of an oily mixture from Kinder Morgan's Perth Amboy terminal.[19] Around 7,700 gallons (29146 liters) of fuel spilled from Phillips 66's Bayway Refinery in Linden.[20]

New Jersey investigated many reports of price gouging.[21] As of December 19, the state had filed lawsuits against 24 businesses: 13 hotels and 11 gas stations.[22]

On average, New Jersey beaches were 30 to 40 feet (10–13 m) narrower after the hurricane.[23] More than 113,000 trees in the state were damaged or destroyed.[24]

Governor Christie's approval rating increased from 48 percent in October to 67 percent on November 21.[25]

On November 23, Governor Christie said cleaning up from Sandy would cost New Jersey about $29.4 billion.[26] On November 28, he revised the total to $36.8 billion.[27]

Flooded homes in Tuckerton the day after Hurricane Sandy

An analysis of aerial imagery conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) indicated that approximately 72,000 homes and business in New Jersey were damaged or destroyed by the storm, with over 40,000 of the buildings affected being in Ocean County. Based on this analysis, 507 buildings were destroyed, 5051 suffered major structural damage, and 66,212 incurred limited damage.[28] U.S. Congressman Chris Smith stated on January 2, 2013 that 346,000 homes in New Jersey were damaged by Sandy, of which 22,000 were rendered uninhabitable.[2]

Atlantic City casinos were closed for several days, leading to a 28 percent drop in revenue during the month of November. It was the biggest monthly drop in 34 years.[29]


On November 16, it was reported that a total of 37 people lost their lives statewide as a result of the storm.[30]

Jersey ShoreEdit

Damage to Casino Pier, including the Star Jet roller coaster in Seaside Heights

The Jersey Shore suffered the most severe winds and surf from Hurricane Sandy and the most damage from the storm. The Shore had the second highest flood in its history.

Mantoloking was especially hard hit, suffering severe "wash over" including the creation of two new, temporary inlets. Approximately two dozen oceanfront houses in Mantoloking were completely removed from their foundations and destroyed. The Belmar boardwalk was destroyed,[31] along with Perth Amboy's marina and waterfront.[32] Much of the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights and nearby Funtown Pier in Seaside Park collapsed into the ocean due to intense waves. Most of the rides in these amusement parks were destroyed, including roller coasters.[33]

Cape May County, including the resort city of Cape May at the southern tip of the state, was largely spared from damage, with only minor beach erosion and no loss of commercial or residential property.[34][35]

Barrier IslandsEdit

New Jersey National Guard workers clearing sand from streets in Holgate on Long Beach Island

The seaside communities on Long Beach Island were among the hardest-hit. Scores of homes and business were destroyed and the storm surge deposited up to four feet of sand on island streets, making them impassable.[36] Governor Christie issued a mandatory evacuation on October 28, and residents and business owners were prohibited from returning until November 10. While no fatalities are thought to have occurred on LBI, preliminary estimates suggests between $750 million and $1 billion in damages on the island alone.[37]

After a week, angry residents on the island communities, like Seaside Heights and Lavallette, wanted to know when they could go back to their property.[38]

As of May 18, homeowners of Ortley Beach still had not been allowed onto the Barrier Island to check on their properties. Ortley Beach was declared "Ground Zero" because of the unbelievable amount of devastation.

Hudson WaterfrontEdit

New Jersey National Guard in flooded Hoboken following Hurricane Sandy

Communities along the Hudson Waterfront were flooded by the storm surge through New York Bay and into the Hudson River. There were massive power outages in Bayonne, Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken, North Bergen, and Edgewater,[39] forcing the evacuation of patients from Palisades Medical Center.[40][41]

Half of Jersey City lost power, while large sections of the Downtown, including City Hall and the Jersey City Medical Center, flooded and had to be evacuated.[42] As high tide approached, the Hudson River overflowed the wall at Exchange Place. Around the same time, Liberty Harbor spilled into the southern part of Marin Boulevard. Both breaches caused water to rush down Columbus Drive and Marin Boulevard where they met near the Historic Downtown. From there, the flood spread throughout the low-lying areas of Jersey City. At approximately 10:30 pm EST, the water reached maximum height. In Paulus Hook, there were only a few intersections spared. Those included the rectangle of intersections from Greene/Montgomery through Warren/Morris with the exception of Warren/Montgomery, which only flooded about a foot. Power was lost several hours after Paulus Hook became an island, at around 9:30 pm EST on October 29.

Half the city of Hoboken was flooded and the city government evacuated two of its fire stations. Hoboken's mayor asked for National Guard help.[43] By late night October 30, an estimated 20,000 people were stranded in Hoboken, surrounded by water. The New Jersey National Guard was deployed and began assisting in rescues on October 31.

In Weehawken, the downtown neighborhood known as the Shades incurred terrible damage, with nearly every resident forced to temporarily relocate.[44]

The storm was ranked #5 on The Hudson Reporter's 2013 list of the 50 most influential people and entities in Hudson County.[45]

Other areasEdit

Downed tree in Summit

In the early morning of October 30, authorities in Bergen County, New Jersey, were evacuating residents after a berm overflowed and flooded several communities. Jeanne Baratta, Chief of Staff for Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan, said there were up to 5 feet (1.5 m) of water in the streets of Moonachie and Little Ferry. The state Office of Emergency Management said rescues also were underway in Carlstadt.[46] Baratta said the three towns had been "devastated" by the flood of water.[47]

Sayreville, a community along the Raritan River, faced rising flood waters from the storm surge entering Raritan Bay, which forced the evacuation and rescue of dozens of residents by the Sayreville water rescue team.[48] The Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Lacey Township was placed on alert when storm waters around the plant rose six feet above normal.[49]

Fires that had destroyed about 14 homes October 29 in Mantoloking restarted in the early morning of October 31, possibly fueled by natural gas.[50]

In Morristown, sustained winds peaked at 40 mph (64 km/h) with gusts to 68 mph (107 km/h). Other peaks gusts include [51] 80 mph (125 km/h) in Clifton, 78 mph (125 km/h) in Newark, 74 mph (119 km/h) in Point Pleasant, and 61 mph (98 km/h) in Basking Ridge. Gusts along Long Beach Island peaked between 75–90 mph (120–144 km/h).[52] Many buildings and homes were damaged especially to siding and roof surfaces. Hundreds of thousands of trees were downed across the state, especially in Morris and Sussex Counties in the northern half. In downtown Morristown, New Jersey, the Morris County Courthouse had a portion of its roof blown off in high gusts.[53] In Edison, New Jersey, wind gusts near 86 mph knocked two large trees into each other, downing power lines that triggered explosions. The two trees slammed onto a resident's car, completely blowing out windows and smashing the trunk.

The rail operations center of New Jersey Transit was flooded by 8 feet (2.4 m) of water and an emergency generator was submerged. Floodwater damaged at least 65 locomotive engines and 257 rail cars. It was expected to be weeks before the resumption of service.[54]

The U.S. Coast Guard said 300,000 gallons (1,150,000 liters) of diesel fuel had been released from a northern New Jersey oil facility that had been closed due to Sandy. Shell Oil and Saudi Refining said the spill occurred at their Sewaren, New Jersey facility, along the Arthur Kill, the tidal waterway separating New Jersey from Staten Island, New York.[55]

The storm damaged the pier to the Three Forts Ferry Crossing at Fort Mott. With uncertainty on when the state would repair the pier, the ferry was rerouted to Barber's Basin in Salem and renamed the Delaware City–Salem Ferry starting in 2013.[56] The ferry returned to Fort Mott in 2015 and is now called the Forts Ferry Crossing.[57]

A fallen tree from Hurricane Sandy in Ridgewood, New Jersey

Basking Ridge New Jersey and the Somerset Hills area suffered numerous downed trees, downed power lines and road closures lasting for up to 2 weeks.

Adding to nerves, worries, downed trees, and power outages, a magnitude 2.0 earthquake struck at 1:19 a.m. EDT November 5 and was centered in Ringwood.[58]

Power outagesEdit

Christie said on the morning of October 30 that some 2.4 million households in the state were without power.[59] No timetable was given on the restoration of power to these customers,[60] although some estimates mentioned a week would be needed before a full assessment of damage could be made.[61]

As of the morning of November 2, 1.6 million customers were still without power, down from 2.7 million.[62] As of November 3, 31 percent of homes and businesses in the state did not have electricity.[63]

As of the morning of November 5, reported customers in the state without electricity were:

As of the morning of November 6, more than 582,000 homes and businesses in the state still did not have power:[65]

  • Public Service Electric & Gas: 310,000 remain without service
  • Jersey Central Power & Light: 257,884 outages, mainly in Monmouth and Morris counties
  • Orange & Rockland: 13,913 remain without service
  • Atlantic City Electric: 227, mostly in Atlantic County

As of the morning of November 7, winds from a nor'easter delayed restoration of electricity. Federal safety rules prevent line crews working in bucket trucks when winds are greater than 40 mph. About 396,000 homes and businesses remained without service.[66]

  • Public Service Electric & Gas: 190,400 remain without service.
  • Jersey Central Power & Light: 190,278 remain without service mainly in Monmouth and Morris counties
  • Orange & Rockland: 10,744 remain without service.
  • Atlantic City Electric: 4,488 remain without service.

As of 6 a.m. EST November 9, about 265,000 homes and businesses were without power in the state because of Sandy and the subsequent nor'easter.[67]


Flooding and damage along Albany Avenue in Atlantic City

As of early morning October 31, nearly 3,000 flights had been cancelled. Newark Liberty Airport reopened in the afternoon of October 31. Teterboro Airport remained closed until November 1.[68][69]New Jersey Transit was shut down in its entirety. Rail service was partly restored on Nov 1. PATH services were also shut down.



Starting November 1, New Jersey Transit restored bus service on 68 bus routes in northern and central New Jersey and 18 bus routes in southern New Jersey, providing service over the entire routes with no detours or truncations. Partial service was scheduled to be restored on 58 bus routes in northern and central New Jersey and 17 routes in southern New Jersey, to operate with detours or truncations due to the impact from Hurricane Sandy.[70]

On November 1, it was announced the state would receive $10 million in emergency transportation funding to help repair roads and bridges.[71]

On November 2, NJ Transit began to run very limited service to Penn Station. Trains on the Northeast Corridor Line, North Jersey Coast Line, and Raritan Valley Line all ran some trains to Manhattan.[72]

By November 4, NJ Transit was running limited service on the Main Line and the Metro-North Port Jervis Line, making all local stops and terminating at Secaucus Junction. The Port Jervis trains ran on the Main Line only; the Bergen County Line remained closed until further notice. The Raritan Valley Line operated only between Raritan and Newark. Although the modified Northeast Corridor service continued operating, the Princeton Branch shuttle remained out of service. Further south, the Atlantic City Line resumed operating normal service.[73] The North Jersey Coast Line also resumed operating on November 4 only as far as Woodbridge (and skipping Avenel); however, after one day, this service was discontinued due to severe overcrowding, and NJCL passengers were directed instead to Metropark station.[74]

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) loaned 31 buses to NJ Transit to support shuttle service for New Jersey commuters going to New York City.[75] DART First State loaned 20 buses from its Resort Transit service that had already ended for the season to NJ Transit to assist in transporting passengers.[76]

As on November 6, part of PATH rail service to and from Midtown Manhattan resumed.[77]

PATH train service between Manhattan and the Newark Penn and Harrison stations resumed in full on November 12.[78]

Daytime PATH train service was scheduled to be restored to the World Trade Center station starting Monday, November 25 at 5 a.m. EST.[79]

On January 28, 2013, PATH trains resumed overnight between Newark and the World Trade Center.[80]

On January 30, 2013, full PATH train service between Hoboken and the World Trade Center resumed.[81]

On February 1, 2013, Route 35 through Mantoloking was fully reopened after being closed since October 29, 2012 from damage from Hurricane Sandy.[82]

Gasoline shortageEdit

Line at gas station in Summit

In the aftermath of the storm, many gas stations were closed and people lined up for hours to get gasoline.[83] According to American Automobile Association on November 2, about 60% of the gas stations in New Jersey were closed.[84] On the night of November 2, Governor Christie took action to prevent a fuel shortage and ease the problem of extended wait times and lines at gas stations by signing Executive Order 108, declaring a limited state of energy emergency with regard to the supply of motor fuel and implementing odd-even rationing for gasoline purchases in 12 New Jersey counties. Odd-even fuel sales took effect in the following counties at noon on November 3: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren counties.[85] This ended at 6 a.m. EST November 13.[86]

Relief effortsEdit

Time Warner Cable donated $500,000 to the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, and $50,000 each to the Red Cross of Northeastern New York and the Red Cross of Northern New Jersey. They also sent out vehicles with mobile charging stations and free WiFi access points, and opened all its WiFi spots in the city.[87]

About 300 Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina landed in New Jersey and joined rescue, relief, and cleanup efforts.[88]

The Massachusetts federally-owned TS Kennedy was sent to Elizabeth, New Jersey on November 4. The ship served as a "hotel" for emergency workers, power crews, and others helping the area.[89]

FEMA stated that, as of November 4, $31 million in federal aid was approved for residents of New Jersey.[90]

Governor Christie signed an executive order to suspend the Bergen County Sunday blue laws on November 4, 2012, allowing stores and malls to be open for the benefit of those severely affected by the hurricane. A week later, the blue laws were put back into effect.[91]

Election DayEdit

Because of the storm, New Jersey allowed electronic voting on Election Day on November 6. Election officials were overwhelmed with requests and many votes were not counted.[92]

Voter turnout in the election was 67 percent, which was the lowest turnout for a presidential election in the state's history. Monmouth County suffered the largest decline in turnout, at 9.2 percent.[93]

Following nor'easterEdit

Immediately after Sandy made landfall, forecasters were already discussing the possibility of a nor'easter directly impacting New Jersey during the following week.[94] In preparation for the storm, some residents of the state's coastal areas were evacuated once again due to the threat of high winds, flooding, and storm surge of up to three feet; although these conditions were not expected to be anywhere near as intense as Sandy.[95] The storm hit New Jersey on November 7, a little more than a week after Sandy's landfall. Much of the state experienced wet snow which weighed down power lines and caused tree limbs to snap, significantly adding on to the existing power outages throughout the state. Additionally, some areas experienced 60 mph wind gusts, although storm surge turned out to be minimal.[96]

Long term aftermathEdit

As of April 2013, many houses on Mantoloking remained damaged, although the post office was reopened and about 40 residents were able to move back by April 2013. By that time, about 39,000 families statewide were still unable to return to their homes, down from 161,000 after Sandy struck. Towns had to borrow money to pay for power restoration and police and fire workers before the federal government compensated them. There were new regulations on how high new homes had to be rebuilt to prevent future flooding. Boardwalks were rebuilt and beaches were restored, the latter due to a combination of natural processes and bulldozers.[97] The roller coaster at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights was demolished on May 14, 2013, after sitting in the ocean for nearly six months. As of the 2016 summer, many oceanfront homes in Mantoloking had been rebuilt, while a stretch of several blocks had empty lots where homes once stood near the Mantoloking Bridge.[98]

See alsoEdit


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