Hurricane Sandy caused an estimated $29.4 billion in damage in New Jersey, nearly 30 times as much as Hurricane Irene, the Christie administration announced Friday.
The estimate is the first figure released by government officials about the superstorm’s statewide financial impact. It includes damage to personal property, businesses, transportation and utilities infrastructure and the tourism economy, and was based on field observations and geographical mapping with expert advice from state commissioners and an outside consulting company.
“In a short period of time, we put together a comprehensive and responsible estimate, which may increase in the weeks ahead, and I stand ready to work with our congressional delegation and the Obama administration to get the funding support New Jersey expects and deserves in the aftermath of this catastrophe,” Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement.
After the state released the estimate, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, also issued a statement pledging his support in obtaining the necessary funding to help New Jersey recover.
"This cost analysis is a critical step in our effort to move a strong emergency funding package forward in Washington,” Lautenberg said in the statement. “The people of New Jersey can rely on the congressional delegation to work with the Obama administration, Governor Christie and our colleagues to deliver the funding necessary for New Jersey families, communities and businesses to recover and rebuild so that we're stronger than ever before."
The preliminary cost estimate also includes aid received and anticipated from federal sources including FEMA and the Small Business Administration. The estimate will likely be refined further to include the long-term impact on the next tourism season, shifts in population, impact on real estate values and other factors, the Christie administration said.
By comparison, Hurricane Irene caused approximately $1 billion in damage in New Jersey in August 2011, and an estimated $15.8 billion from the Caribbean to Canada.
Hurricane Katrina, the costliest storm in U.S. history, caused an estimated $108 billion in insured and uninsured losses, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report revised last year.
Early professional estimates of Sandy’s damage were that it would exceed $20 billion in the U.S., but that figure was revised up to more than $50 billion by some consulting firms after the damage became more apparent. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo estimated on Nov. 8 that damage and losses in his state from the storm totalled $33 billion.
FEMA damage assessments using aerial imagery and other sources list about 72,000 homes and businesses in New Jersey damaged by the storm, with more than 500 completely destroyed, 5,000 suffering major damage from flooding and wind, 24,000 with minor damage and tens of thousands more with other water damage.
“We will continue to provide immediate relief for our citizens who were struck hard by Sandy,” Christie said. “But be assured, I will spare no effort and waste no time to rebuild and restore our tourism industry, our transportation and utilities infrastructure and the lives of our citizens for the long term.”