Frankenstorm: Remembering Hurricane Sandy

Forget the ghastly ghouls of Halloween. October 2012 spawned a true monster. We take a look back at Hurricane Sandy.

We’re all used to seeing little ghouls and goblins in our neighborhoods at this time of year, but for residents of the Eastern United States, Canada, and the island nations of Cuba, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, where the Halloween of 2012 brought a different kind of monster.

Hurricane Sandy, dubbed “Frankenstorm” by the news media, hit during Halloween week 2012, leaving behind a path of devastation and destruction thousands of miles long. While movie monsters like Jason or Freddy Krueger may keep some up at night, they’ve got nothing on the horror wrought by the Superstorm Sandy.

Not only was Sandy the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of 2012, she was also the second most economically damaging hurricane in U.S. history, surpassed only by Hurricane Katrina. In addition, she was the largest Atlantic hurricane, in terms of diameter, ever recorded; at her widest point, she spanned 1,100 miles!

How Sandy Started

Sandy started as a tropical storm on October 22, strengthening to a Category 3 hurricane by the time she made landfall in Cuba hurricane three days later, on October 25th.

She weakened into a Category 1 storm as she tore through the Bahamas, then began to weaken further over the cold waters of the Atlantic, until she just barely qualified as a tropical storm. But, just like a horror movie monster, Sandy wasn’t about to die that easily. By the seventh day of her rampage, she got a second wind and re-intensified into a Category 2 hurricane just in time to slam into the Northeastern United States.

Sandy made landfall in New Jersey on October 29, 2012. Her 89 mph winds crumbed houses into rubble and left behind widespread flooding. Neighboring states also saw flooding, extensive wind damage, and even blizzards. Other than New Jersey, New York got hit hardest, with flooded streets, tunnels, and subway lines in New York City. Most of the states along the East Coast of the United States were declared to be in a state of emergency, from the Carolinas north to Maine.

In all, Hurricane Sandy affected 24 states, including the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine, and westward as far as Michigan and Wisconsin. In Canada, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia were all pounded by storm surges brought on by the hurricane.

In the United States alone, Sandy caused more than $65 billion in damage, and she claimed more than 280 lives throughout the region she affected. That’s more devastation than most movie monsters could even dream up.

Did you live through Superstorm Sandy? Share your recollections below!

Photo courtesy of NOAA.

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Jaime McLeod

Jaime McLeod is a longtime journalist who has written for a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites, including She enjoys the outdoors, growing and eating organic food, and is interested in all aspects of natural wellness.

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Kelly Osvold

Here we are, the last day of January, 2016. Over 3 years after Hurricane Sandy demolished the homes, livelihood & life long treasures of the residents of the Sandy Hook Bay Area where my parents live. My grandfather had the house built after WWII for his new bride. My father was raised there, as was I. So many memories …. kittens being born in the attic, Dad building the dormer and adding the dining & laundry rooms. Mom displaying mine & my cousins art work on the fridge and later, my son’s. All saved to be stored inside cabinet doors for regular reflection.
I live 2 hours away and was unable to even get into the area until later that week. I work on a farm for some of the most wonderful people you would ever want to meet! They donated fresh fruit, cider, gasoline, water and money. My church also made donations as did the local cub scout troop, who after I removed all except the front two seats of my minivan, packed my van solid with supplies of everything you could think of …cleaning supplies, clean clothes, personal hygiene products, non perishable foods as well as milk, diapers, batteries, flashlights & gift cards to Home Depot, Loews & grocery stores for once they were reopened. As much as people in South Jersey complain about the laws of our state being geared towards those north of us, their immediate action & outpouring of love & concern for their fellow New Jerseyans was obvious. I am engrained with a real sense of pride to live amongst such loving people. I carefully drove up I95, thankful that my Dad had taught me how to drive using just my side view mirrors, as I couldn’t see out my rearview, the van was packed that tight! I drove up to the street I grew up on and the street was closed. A very nice officer I recognized from growing up there allowed me down the street. I never in my life saw anything like it in person. Friends and neighbors I had known all of my life, were picking out what could be salvaged of their lifetimes of work. A grandmother I knew, was peeling the pages of an old photo album, crying over it as she sat on her front steps. A neighbor let me park in their yard as I couldn’t park in my parents’ driveway. Their was just too much debris. I had to steel myself before facing my parents. Dad was in shock. The living room sofa was out in the front yard, where he was perched on the arm. He would wave & talk to neighbors as they wandered dazedly down the road. My uncle, his brother & only living relative (besides myself & my son) & link to the past, had passed away four months before and the strain of it all had really gotten to him. My mother was in the house busily filling up industrial strength garbage bags with the contents of 65 years of possessions.
I felt so much admiration for my mother that day! How strong she was, going thru the contents of her life, setting aside what was salvageable, smiling when she came across something that held a memory, and discarding what could not be saved. Occasionally we would see my dad walk past the window, on his way to or from his garage where tens of thousands of dollars worth of his beloved wood working tools were well beyond salvage. She would ask him if he was ok. Did he want something to eat? Wow! She was so strong, so steady, so solid, like the rock of Gibraltar! Later that afternoon, we were cleaning out the front vestibule where 100 years, going back to family in Italy, of family photos were displayed. Mom didn’t so much as bat an eyelash as we peeled her family tree off of the glass of the frames that they were in. On the bottom of the front table, there was a beautiful old wooden, velvet lined box. When she picked it up & opened it, she broke. She started to cry, then swore, then walked out the door to ceremoniously dump the box on top of the rapidly growing heap of debris at the curb. She did not come right back in.
I felt so helpless. I left the house, crying myself, to distribute the goods I brought to the neighbors. Many of these people I knew from growing up there, some I did not. But we were all bonded by our sense of grief, loss & shock. I was surprised at how many of my neighbors were offering ME something to drink or to share what little food they had available to them. They just wanted to talk, to have an ear to listen to their grief. It was an overwhelmingly heart wrenching experience, to hear their stories. To see where Billy once magic markered the walls, where little John had burnt a scorch mark on the floor while experimenting with a chemistry set. To be shown where Mr. Burns father had died in his sleep where the living room couch once was. To see houses I had played in as a child uninhabitable.
Like so many other residents of that area, my parents, are still not in their homes. Since Sandy, my parents have become senior citizens & retired, as have many of their friends. Some of the residents will never be able to return to their homes. Some because the homes have been condemned, some because of new zoning. One of my parents’ friends came down with an inoperable tumor. She just wanted to die in her own home. Her husband got rid of the FEMA contractors and at great personal expense, hired his own. Sadly, the progression was quicker than the builders and she never did get to see it completed, let alone live or die in it. The recovery from Sandy is not yet over for many of the inhabitants of the area. But they remain strong & hopeful. Perhaps this spring my parents will be able to return to “the old homestead”, as my father calls it.


We live near Exit 3 of the NJ Turnpike in southern NJ. I remember preparing for this storm: making sure that we had supplies to last us for several days in case we lost power; that both cars were gassed up; that our propane tank to the outside grill was full, etc. The winds were howling starting the day before, and continued for almost two days. My husband and I took turns sleeping. I slept with ear plugs for those few hours. Fortunately, we did not loose power. Our television was on most of the time to see the live coverage of the storm: before, during, and after. I just felt so helpless and so sad and so sorry when I saw what was happening throughout NJ and all the other states. My relatives and friends were affected; we felt so helpless. All we had were a lot of leaves and branches that had fallen throughout our neighborhood. Many of us supported our local churches and organizations with food, clothing, etc. and money to be sent to the badly stricken areas in NJ. We will never forget this storm.

Tom Ashcraft

I was on a cruise ship, our port of calls were Nassau and Freeport. We made it Nassau ok, but could not make it to Freeport. Instead our captain elected to try and out run sandy. My stateroom was on the 5th deck, i could look out my porthole and watch the waves hit my porthole.
You could set up pn the 10th deck were the swinging pool was, and see the sea spray come over the top of ship.

Elizabeth Johnson

We live in Union Beach New Jersey, the storm came at high tide and a full moon, a 14 foot storm surge came in to our town ! Some houses were washed out to sea, some were pushed onto the road and one house was pushed into the marsh behind it. Total devastation, almost 80% of homes had some type of storm damage, it was terrifying to witness this. The next morning our town looked like a war zone, boats washed up on lawns, debris everywhere, downed trees and personal items all over the place. We even had photos from Staten Island in our yard!

Michael Amato

I live in in West Haven, Connecticut which is located on the south shore. During the height of Hurricane Sandy, the trees at my condo were bending all the way to the ground. One of my friends, who lives in Madison, Ct., recorded a wind gust of 98 MPH on his home weather station. My home barometer fell to 28.80″ even thought the center of Sandy came ashore in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This compares to my barometer falling to 28.96″ with the arrival of Hurricane Irene in 2011. I will always remember these two Back to Back hurricanes.


I live in Monmouth county in nj. The howling wind woke us up with this superstorm. We lost power for 10 days we had none but we had a tree come down which was already on its way out. So now it’s firewood. I would never want to go through that again .

Karen McLaughlin

When the ocean began to crash over the boardwalk the day before sandy was supposed to hit we knew it was time to get off the island.seaside heights had been our home for many years . It was tuly heartbreaking to c the newscasters standing I. 5ft of water during the storm. The next day we couldn’t get within 3 blocks radius of the bridge to go home because of the flooding. And safety of the bridge was compromised by boats and houses smashing into it!!!! Houses!!!!?!? Yes ! It took two weeks before we could get over there it was so eerie sand piled up 2&3 stories high trucks in sink holes houses and motels torn to shreds . It felt like a movie set w the military presence not to forget every other form of law enforcement . There were checkpoints we needed I’d to pass through, we couldn’t leave the area we were helping in the cvs was on 24/7 survailence. At night was the worst the only light where fires burning ….. With no where to get a room or rent a place we had to go up north by my brother in Passaic county and thank god we found a room there. We came back down end of feb the day before my daughter gave birth to our first grandchild. It took till end of May to finally find a place to live 13 miles from our former home. We miss the salt air and the peace and quite of the off season however if there is another storm like sandy we are far enough away from the water….. Please remember there are still many people struggling to get their lives back together we still need dressers and curtains etc… However god provides and we have a roof over our head and no loss of life .. Just stuff lost and a lesson learned!!!!! There is no way around Mother Nature !!! Thanks Karen

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