Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which wreaked havoc on the East Coast, devastating the homes and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people. Climate change is fueling extreme weather like Superstorm Sandy and costly floods, droughts and wildfires nationwide. This anniversary is a reminder that the time to act on climate is now.
Superstorm Sandy “…became the deadliest and largest Atlantic hurricane of the year and the second costliest in U.S. history after Hurricane Katrina,” according to a recent Center for American Progress (CAP) report. A separate CAP report estimates that during the storm, 150 people were killed, over 659,000 homes were damaged and millions of lives were disrupted as the transit systems, phone networks and other essential services failed or closed. The cost of the storm totaled $65 billion in damages and economic losses, which included power outages resulting in 200,000 small businesses temporarily closing and the total loss of 2 million work days.
The East Coast is continuing to recover from this devastating storm. As Think Progress has noted, there are still thousands of people who are displaced from their homes and the New York City transportation system, which suffered approximately $5 billion in damages, is still being repaired. There are also many business owners in the area that are still fighting to keep their doors open as they grapple with property damages and losses in income.
While climate change alone doesn’t cause extreme storms like this, it is fueling them by making their impacts more devastating. And extreme weather events aren’t just becoming more frequent, they’re becoming more costly to—according to CAP, between 2011 and 2013, there were at least 25 extreme weather events nationwide, costing more than $188 billion in damages.
Superstorm Sandy was a painful reminder of the impacts of climate change-fueled extreme weather. As we continue to rebuild, we must build more resilient communities and also not lose sight of the importance of tackling the climate crisis. It’s the challenge of our generation, and something we can’t afford to ignore.
(Photo taken by Andre-Pierre du Ples sis)