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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Six months after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Tri-State Area, the region continues its steady, but sometimes slow, pace to a full recovery.
Sandy caused billions of dollars in damage and left tens of thousands of people homeless after coming ashore Oct. 29. half a year later, major issues including housing, business, tourism and coastal protection still remain.
In New Jersey, Sandy destroyed about 360,000 homes and some areas along the shore are still struggling.
“We’re doing a heck of a lot better today than we were six months ago,” Gov. Chris Christie told 1010 WINS on Monday. “But there are a lot of people, thousands of families who still don’t have their homes back to them.”
Beaches that were washed away are coming back, due to both nature and bulldozers, as officials work to protect the shoreline from future storms.
“Projects will begin next month to build a dune system along the entire 130-mile coastline of New Jersey and into the bay shore as well to try to make sure if another storm like this comes, that we’re much better prepared,” Christie said. “And all the boardwalks across New Jersey will be rebuilt by Memorial Day weekend.”
The roller coaster that plunged off a pier in Seaside Heights, N.J. is still in the ocean, although demolition plans are finally moving forward.
Scores of homes that were destroyed in nearby Mantoloking still look as they did the day after the storm – piles of rubble and kindling, with the occasional bathroom fixture or personal possession visible among the detritus.
Homeowners are tortured by uncertainty over ever-changing rules on how high they’ll need to rebuild their homes to protect against the next storm. Insurance companies have not paid out all that many homeowners expected.
Christie estimated 39,000 New Jersey families remain displaced, down from 161,000 the day after the storm.
Christie announced details Monday of the state’s plans to spend more than $1.8 billion in federal grants on storm rebuilding and recovery.
“The homeowner grant program that will allow folks to apply for grants to elevate their homes or rebuild their homes if they were destroyed, so that’s priority number one: to get people back in their homes,” Christie said.
“We’re not here to take a victory lap because we know that we haven’t achieved victory yet, anywhere near it,” said Christie.
“This is not all the community development block grant money we have for the state of New Jersey. This is the first piece of New Jersey’s plan. It’s $1.83 billion, so it’s substantial,” said Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.
To be eligible for this latest round of grant money, homeowners and business owners must be registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency by May 1.