(AP) – The hurricane that merged with another weather system to form Superstorm Sandy spun ashore three months ago Tuesday, devastating coastal New Jersey and New York and spreading winds, rain, snow and waves over parts of more than 20 states. The latest tallies from the second most expensive storm in U.S. history, after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina:
The toll has fluctuated as causes of death are determined or changed, but as of Tuesday, the storm was behind the deaths of at least 146 people in the United States, according to government counts. That includes at least 98 in New York and New Jersey. There were 71 additional deaths in the Caribbean.
DAMAGE AND LOSSES
Sandy damaged or destroyed 305,000 housing units and disrupted more than 265,000 businesses in New York. In New Jersey, 346,000 housing units were destroyed or damaged, and 190,000 businesses affected.
Loss estimates in the affected states vary. Earlier this month, leading insurance company Munich Re Ag estimated insured losses at $25 billion and total losses at $50 billion. In December, state governments reported a total of $62 billion in damage and other losses.
Congress on Monday passed a $50.5 billion emergency package of relief and recovery aid. Added to $9.7 billion previously approved for a federal flood insurance program, the total is roughly in line with the $60.4 billion President Barack Obama requested in December.
HOMELESS AND HEATLESS
At least 3,500 families in New York and New Jersey are still living in hotels and motels on the dime of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As winter has settled in, people who still have homes but no means to heat them have taken refuge in tents set up by aid workers.
Redrawn federal maps indicating flood-prone areas may force many property owners, especially in New York or New Jersey, to pay exorbitantly for flood insurance, raise their homes or move away altogether. In New Jersey, flood insurance premiums could cost as much as $31,000 a year.
In New York, a commission formed to examine ways to guard against future storms has called for flood walls in subways, water pumps at airports and sea barriers along the coast. It’s unclear whether enough money can be found for all the expensive recommendations.
Sources: State government agencies and officials, AP reporting
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