NEW YORK — A year after Superstorm Sandy deluged coastal communities with seawater, many people still can’t believe they’re not back in their homes.
Others are thankful for small victories in the long, arduous recovery process.
Devastated residents on Tuesday recalled the help they got from strangers in the days and months after Sandy.
Sandy came ashore on Oct. 29, 2012, sending floodwaters pouring across the densely populated barrier islands of Long Island and the Jersey shore. The storm was blamed for at least 182 deaths in the U.S. — including 68 in New York and 71 in New Jersey — and property damage estimated at $65 billion.
Here is a look at how people are commemorating the unprecedented storm:
One year after Sandy, what Ellen Bednarz of Sayreville, N.J., remembered most was the kindness of the debris haulers who carted away the family’s ruined possessions.
“I never saw more caring people,” she said at an event to thank firefighters who used boats to rescue scores of people.
Before the storm hit, Bednarz and her family hastily moved their patio set, family room and office furniture to a storage unit and checked into a hotel.
Only when they were allowed back to their split-level days later did they see the water had risen 14 feet — destroying everything. Bednarz is renting an apartment and waiting to close on a government home buyout.
When Sandy darkened much of the city, some New Yorkers were only hours old. Others weren’t even born.
On Tuesday, babies filled a Manhattan hospital room to celebrate their first birthdays — and their survival. Kenneth Hulett III weighed only 2 pounds when emergency medical workers rushed him out of the New York Hospital intensive care unit and down the stairs while hooked up to an oxygen tank.
His mother, Emily Blatt, says her faith sustained her as she was evacuated on an orange sled.
That day, more than 40 babies were safety moved from the hospital to other facilities. On Tuesday, their parents and hospital staff lighted candles atop cupcakes and sang, “Happy birthday, dear babies.”
Visiting a flood-damaged firehouse in Seaside Park, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday was a day to remember volunteers and first responders who risked their lives to save others.
Christie, who stayed overnight at the governor’s beach house in neighboring Island Beach State Park, said he woke up and was struck by “just how much different we all feel a year later.”
“I want us to think of how much better things look today than they did a year ago and celebrate that,” Christie said. “We also have to acknowledge that there’s still thousands of people out of their homes.”
New York Gov. Cuomo visited the National Museum of the American Indian in lower Manhattan, which was temporarily shut down last year by flooding and power outages.
Cuomo recalled the “feeling of powerlessness” seeing the southern tip of Manhattan submerged in water.
He also warned that extreme weather is “the new normal” but said the city and state is now better equipped to withstand it.