In Hurricane Sandy's Wake: Nature

October 29, 2014

Marsh grass creeps over abandoned cars, plants sprout through pavement, and reeds poke out of forgotten swimming pools. This is the seaside hamlet of Fox Beach, New York. Two years ago today Superstorm Sandy slammed into the East Coast, bringing an 11-foot storm surge that flooded many coastal communities. Fox Beach was among the hardest hit.

Sandy devastated this stretch of Staten Island, killing 24 residents. With hundreds of homes damaged beyond repair and flood insurance costs, many homeowners agreed to sell their properties to the state and move to higher ground. Now, nature is taking over.

Marshland can provide natural drainage and help buffer against storm surges and sea-level rise, and marshland is what Fox Beach is slowly becoming. More deer, hawks, and herons have already started to move in. “When I first saw all of the homes boarded up like that, I thought, ‘My God, what have we done?’” says one lifetime resident who lost a family member in the storm. “But it was the right choice. When we found my brother, I knew that I would never go back. No one should live out there.”

Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein for Al Jazeera America

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Guide

The most widespread, damaging storms on earth are getting worse, and climate change is a big reason why. Here’s a look at what causes hurricanes and how to address the threat of a wetter, windier world.

NRDC in Action

Khalil Shahyd had a hand in helping his hometown recover from Katrina, and now he advocates for climate resiliency on behalf of vulnerable communities nationwide.

onEarth Story

A nation serious about mitigating natural disasters like the ones we’ve just seen can’t afford to let this moment slip away.

What's At Stake

Tens of thousands of American families live in repeatedly flooded properties—and many feel like there’s no way out.

Action Figure

After Hurricane Sandy, Joseph Tirone Jr. helped one Staten Island community navigate New York State’s pilot buyout program. Now he’s on a mission to show others how he did it.

Join Us

When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.