Post Tropical Cyclone Sandy
11/19/2012 12:00:00 PM
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Posting Date: 11/19/2012 12:00:00 PM
This report is the third in a series from AIR’s recently concluded damage survey of areas impacted by Sandy, which made landfall on October 29, 2012, five miles southwest of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

On November 11, 2012, two AIR teams were deployed to survey damage in New York and New Jersey. Team members included Dr. Karthik Ramanathan and Aditya Kistemasetty from AIR’s Research and Modeling group, Nihal Joag from Consulting and Client Services, and Jared Seaquist from Business Development.

The photos and commentary in this report provide an initial glimpse into the kinds of damage patterns caused by this event in Staten Island, New York, and Toms River, Point Pleasant Beach, Sea Bright, Keyport, Union Beach, Keansburg, Kearny, Secaucus, Moonachie, and Little Ferry, New Jersey.

In the areas surveyed, the majority of the damage in coastal areas was due to storm surge, and in inland areas it was due to riverine flooding. Wind damage was generally limited to roof coverings and wall siding. Significant damage was also caused by downed trees. The coastal neighborhoods from Long Beach to Keyport, New Jersey, experienced extensive to complete damage due to storm surge. Damage was seen to residential, commercial, and industrial structures and to their contents.

Staten Island, New York

Neighborhoods of Stapleton, Fort Wadsworth, Midland Beach, and New Dorp Beach

Stapleton is a neighborhood located in the northeastern part of Staten Island along the waterfront. The AIR team observed wind damage to property and uprooted trees along the coast. In residential and commercial sectors, evidence of extensive flooding at street level was observed—for nearly two blocks inland there were reports of flooding four feet above street level.

Fort Wadsworth is a former U.S. military installation on the Narrows, which divides New York Bay into Upper and Lower halves. The AIR Team surveyed residential properties that were uphill and found moderate levels of wind damage, including loss of roof covering and damage to wall siding.

Figure 1: (Left) Loss of asphalt shingles in Fort Wadsworth; (right) damage to the siding of a house in Fort Wadsworth (Source: AIR).

In many instances, the garages of homes close to the coast were not flooded, as they seem to have been built above the base flood elevation (provisions for FEMA flood zones Z [coastal high hazard subject to 100-year flooding and storm surge] and A [100-year floodplain]).

Homes surveyed on Father Capodanno Boulevard from the coast to about 500 feet inland experienced significant flooding. A group of 28 seemingly identical houses was completely destroyed by the flooding.

Figure 2: (Left) House in Fort Wadsworth with living room wall ravaged by storm surge; (right) close-up of damaged first floor showing complete damage to the structure and contents (Source: AIR).

Figure 3: Athletic facility in Fort Wadsworth whose back facade metal sheeting was torn off completely (front and sides were unfinished before Sandy) (Source: AIR).

Midland Beach (formerly known as Woodland Beach) is a neighborhood on the east-central coast of Staten Island. The AIR Team observed significant storm surge damage in this area. As far as 16 blocks from the coast, garages, basements, and ground floors were still under water.

Figure 4: (Left) Wall foundation underneath building completely washed out in Midland Beach; (right) a house completely detached from its foundation in Midland Beach (Source: AIR).

Of the four neighborhoods, New Dorp Beach, which is just south of Midland Beach, suffered the most severe storm surge damage that the AIR New York Team observed.

Figure 5: (Left and right) Catastrophic damage in New Dorp Beach (Source: AIR).

Figure 6: Catastrophic damage in New Dorp Beach (Source: AIR).

New Jersey

Toms River, Point Pleasant, Sea Bright

The AIR Team attempted to survey damage in Seaside Heights, but access to the area was restricted to residents only. The AIR Team surveyed the area around Seaside Heights, which sustained extensive surge damage.

Most residential structures were rendered uninhabitable due to contamination caused by flooding. Almost all houses experienced contents damage; there was a great deal of debris in the road.

Figure 7: (Top) Significant damage to a house in Toms River (from wind and surge); (bottom) extent of loss in Toms River neighborhood (Source: AIR).

Figure 8: Surge damage to walls and windows of coastal buildings in Point Pleasant (Source: AIR).

Sea Bright is a small borough in Monmouth County, New Jersey, with a land area of less than 1 square mile. This borough is long and narrow with water on both sides. Residential structures, hotels, and beach clubs line either side of Route 36, which passes through the center of the borough. This area had the most damage observed by the AIR New Jersey Team. Because of the borough’s shape, most of the houses on the coast were significantly damaged by the surge. Surge damage ranged from wall damage to foundation damage to complete building collapse. The entire neighborhood experienced significant contents damage. In addition, five to 10 houses that were still standing were sealed off because of safety concerns.

Figure 9: (Left) Damage to a residential structure in Sea Bright; (right) complete collapse of a building in Sea Bright (Source: AIR).

Figure 10: Foundation damage to coastal buildings in Sea Bright (Source: AIR).

Keyport, Union Beach, and Keansburg

Extensive storm surge damage and minor wind damage to roofs was observed in Keyport, Union Beach, and Keansburg areas of New Jersey.

Figure 11: (Left and right) Extensive surge damage in Keyport (Source: AIR).

Both Union Beach and Keansburg have a mix of residential, commercial, and recreational properties that showed catastrophic damage for five to six blocks starting from the oceanfront. The AIR team and the general public were prohibited from entering certain areas of Union Beach due to heavy contamination caused by oil, sewage, and other possibly toxic materials. The National Guard is helping with the cleanup process.

Figure 12: (Left) A completely damaged house due to storm surge in Union Beach; (right) missing foundation, floor, and heavy damage to the walls in a single-family house in Union Beach (Source: AIR).

In Keansburg, an amusement park was heavily damaged, and storm surge measuring 4.5 feet was observed six blocks in from the coast.


Kearny, an industrial area, experienced significant flooding, due to the overflowing of the Hackensack and Passaic rivers. The AIR team was able to tour one oil and natural gas storage facility. Based on conversations with the facility personnel, the facility saw close to two feet of flooding and was out of business for two weeks. This business interruption was at least partly responsible for the gas shortage in the area. A small portion of the facility’s operations resumed on November 9, and efforts to get the facility completely operational are ongoing.

There was no storm protection in place at the facility, and the first set of storage tanks were less than 200 feet from the river banks. It is believed that some of the large storage tanks shifted from their platforms due to heavy river currents.

Secaucus, Moonachie, and Little Ferry

In neighborhoods of Secaucus, Moonachie, and Little Ferry, watermarks indicated that riverine flooding reached a height of 22 inches several blocks away from the Hackensack River. Although no structural damage was observed, basement and garage contents had to be discarded.

An industrial park and manufacturing facility in Little Ferry located on the banks of the Hackensack River experienced no flooding due to their flood protection systems of a concrete wall anchored in place by steel anchors and a concrete flood wall, respectively. The Teterboro Airport in Little Ferry experienced little wind damage, although a wind gust of 80 mph was recorded at the site. A few houses showed damage to asphalt roof shingles.

This report concludes AIR’s damage survey of areas impacted by Sandy. The AIR Tropical Cyclone team is analyzing findings from the survey along with the latest available information regarding the parameters of the event itself. Analysis results will be used to update AIR’s modeled loss estimates for this storm, which will be available on the ALERT site on Monday, November 26.

Post Tropical Cyclone Sandy
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