With Hurricane Sandy nearly ten years in the rearview mirror – the anniversary of the hurricane’s landfall on the Jersey Shore will arrive tomorrow – politicians across New Jersey today commemorated the disaster and lauded the progress the state has made in becoming more resilient.
“Tomorrow marks ten years since the greatest natural disaster in our state’s history,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at an event in Port Monmouth, at the northernmost edge of the Jersey Shore. “Throughout the last ten years, we’ve come a long way in healing the scars of Sandy… While we cannot stop climate change and we cannot stop the next storm, that doesn’t mean we are just to throw up our hands and do nothing.”
Murphy highlighted the ways the state and federal government helped those who lost their homes to Sandy recover, as well as the more than $2 billion that has been invested thus far in coastal and flood protection along the Shore. Joining him at the event were a number of other top New Jersey political figures, among them U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch).
“When New Jersey faced its darkest moments, we had some of the brightest lights fighting on behalf of our state,” Menendez said of his fellow congressional delegation members.
To their north, in Lodi, Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) and Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) held a separate event on Sandy’s effects on North Jersey, where flooding and power outages wreaked havoc. (Lodi is currently in Gottheimer’s 5th district, but will soon be in Pascrell’s 9th district.)
“We will never forget those who perished during Superstorm Sandy and the storm’s impact on New Jersey,” Gottheimer said in a statement. “Looking back, it’s hard to comprehend the magnitude of the devastation… After the way Sandy, Ida, and so many other intense storms have hit our communities, it’s clear that we must do better – to be prepared, to protect our infrastructure, and to respond and recover.”
Common across the events was the message that while October 2012 was a grim period in New Jersey history, the state’s residents were strong then and remain strong today.
“Across this state, from Atlantic City to this great community to the one I used to lead as mayor, we saw in the darkest of night, the brightness of who we are,” said Booker, who was mayor of Newark when the hurricane hit. “In a moment of weakness, we saw our strength. And when we saw the worst storm of our history, we saw the best of New Jersey.”
Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Manchester), the dean of the state’s congressional delegation whose district includes large portions of the Jersey shore, said that “despite the crippling losses, we were happy to be alive and determined to rebuild.”
“Since then we have rebuilt our homes and businesses and focused on resiliency programs that fortify our coastline and expand beach protection. We are stronger and more committed than ever to protecting our people, businesses and tourism at the Jersey shore,” said Smith, who praised first responders and faith-basd organizations.