Researchers Susan L. Cutter and Christopher T. Emrich at the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at the University of South Carolina published information about recovery from super storm Sandy as compared to Katrina. I think that I participated in submitting responses to their survey.
I noticed that one area not mentioned in the article in Emergency Management “A Tale of Two Recoveries: Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy” was the long term financial impact of the storm on affected residents. In this regard, I can best speak for myself but I know that I am not alone in this type of scenario.
On the day before the storm I was an average small business owner with little debt, good credit, and conservative finances.
Today, now two and a half years later after Sandy, I am financially insolvent, deeply in debt, under severe lifestyle stress that affects marital stability and family relationships and adversely impacts personal health. Here in our corner of rural southwest New Jersey all types of financial assistance for recovery were denied: homeowners insurance, flood insurance, FEMA, SBA, NJ Stronger, and so on, were all denied in Downe Township NJ. I am resolved to the possibility that I may never be able to move back into my home or reopen my business. It feels like the world just abandoned us to die a slow painful death in the wake of the storm. Now we are facing foreclosure by the township and prosecution and eviction by the county health department, we don’t know what to expect for our future. It’s a tough way to live. The mantra adopted by citizens and government officials alike here is “Disaster assistance was a disaster”. Although I’m not an expert on Katrina, it seems that more long term resources and options were available to dedicated hard working residents and business owners who wanted to rebuild. So I wish more attention could be focused on the long term financial impact of the storm on ordinary residents and business people.