One year ago, the week of Halloween would be associated with something a bit more frightening as a storm of epic proportion barreled toward the eastern seaboard. Hurricane Sandy would pummel into New York and New Jersey wreaking havoc and later becoming the second costliest hurricane in United States history.
We compiled data to highlight the aftermath’s effects on home repairs and insurance payouts a year after Sandy made landfall. With statistics on over 90 million home repair and improvement projects, Porch analysts hammered out data on preventative and reactive measures that were enacted after Hurricane Sandy’s landfall. Following the storm, an estimated 651,000 housing units were destroyed or damaged in the massive storm – 340,000 in New Jersey and 305,000 in the greater New York City area – with 22,000 housing units completely uninhabitable.
Insurance claims skyrocketed with 501,447 claims paid out in the greater New York area and 328,946 claims paid out to New Jersey residents. Safety related projects were the most prevalent in the months immediately following Sandy in the New York and New Jersey metro areas with 49.9% of home repairs attributed to safety.
Todd Miller of QMA Design+Build LLC, a Porch professional and architectural design firm in New Jersey, confirmed that “A lot of people were concerned about alarm systems – unfortunately the power goes out and the alarm system doesn’t function. We have seen a number of people who have requested generators and that sort of thing. The new FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) rules were pretty restrictive about what you can or can’t do.”
In what can be speculated as a potential fear of theft or looting, residents equipped their homes with emergency devices following the traumatic storm. Data showed an increase of 55.6% alarm safety installs and an increase of 27.8% smoke detector installs. Following such a devastating event and with roughly 5 million residents without electrical power, we also studied the decline in home repair projects in the New York/New Jersey metro area between October and December 2012. The biggest declines in Exterior (18.4%) and Window repair (20.3%) were likely due to the complete devastation caused by the storm and residents anxiously waiting for insurance payouts.
Miller said, “Now that FEMA has finalized their maps and certainty as to the direction that things are going in, we are seeing projects popping up now. If you didn’t call your insurance company immediately after the storm, people were waiting months for adjusters.”
As applications came rolling in for aid and assistance in home repair and recovery, $5.6 billion in aid was paid out to New Jersey storm victims with $415 million coming from FEMA grants designated to individuals with households. FEMA approved over $1 billion to New York City residents whose property was destroyed or damaged by Sandy with $855 million designated to help survivors with home repairs and temporary rental costs.
New governmental requirements have strengthened protection for residents and insurance providers. Flood maps have been updated for the first time since 1983 with 398,000 residents currently living in flood prone areas in the New York City area. By 2030, all buildings in New York with more than 7 stories and over 300,000 square feet are required to undertake flood protection measures.
With New York City being the number one metropolitan city in the US at risk from storm surge, the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force launched “Rebuild By Design” to develop actionable projects that will make the Sandy-affected region more resilient.
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