Ten years ago today, we were preparing for the impact of a storm that proved to be among the costliest in U.S. history. In New Jersey alone, Hurricane Sandy left over two million households without power, while 346,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, and 38 people were killed. Storm surge and flooding from Hurricane Sandy hit places from coastal Cape May to landlocked Morristown, as well as the urban megalopolis along the Hudson River and more rural areas, such as Columbia, NJ, far up the Delaware River.
Both Sandy Hook, where the Littoral Society is headquartered, and Broad Channel, NY, home to our Northeast Chapter, were largely underwater. It was a huge storm that caught the entire Northeast by surprise, as it made landfall just days before Halloween.
In the decade since, a number of named and anonymous storms have brought reminders of Sandy, with the remnants of hurricanes Ida (2021) and Ian (2022) being just the most recent and destructive. While some changes have been made in NY and NJ, many more are just concepts and promises. Each new storm threatens to reveal just how unprepared we remain.
At the American Littoral Society, we leapt into restoration work in the aftermath of Sandy, and we've been at it ever since. Initially we rebuilt beaches along Delaware Bay so that horseshoe crabs and migrating shorebirds could fulfill their ages old roles, with our South Jersey office serving as the hub for those projects. Then we worked to protect those beaches, and the communities around them, with engineered oyster reefs. Now we're using natural solutions to rebuild marshes and shorelines across New Jersey and into New York, so that they can not only help control flooding and erosion, but also adapt to rising seas and the storms we all know are coming.
Beyond the restoration work, we're also advocating changes to coastal development rules, and constantly striving to inform people - from children to adults - about the changing world around them, while offering ways that they can play a direct role in caring for the coast. You can help by joining the Littoral Society, volunteering to help build a reef or plant a dune, or making a donation so that we can continue talking with lawmakers and policy leaders about how to better prepare for the next Sandy.