°F The heat continues, with highs expected to hit the lower 90s. Hear what this means for Christine the ceramicist.

Matthew Schuerman

Editor, WNYC

Matthew Schuerman appears in the following:

City to Get $1.77B in Sandy Aid

Friday, May 10, 2013

"Are there going to be strings attached?” — Michael Murr, of hard-hit Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, who is paying for repairs to his home out of pocket.


City: Evacuation Rate During Sandy Dangerously Low

Friday, May 03, 2013

Only a third of New York City residents in the most vulnerable coastal areas of the city evacuated before Sandy, according to a survey released Friday.


A Post-Sandy Answer to the Beachfront W.C.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Visitors to many New York City beaches later this month will be met with an unusual sight: giant boxes held aloft on pillars and supports.

Comments [2]

Sandy Damage Prompts Some to Walk Away Instead of Stay

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


In some places, Sandy’s wrath is a reason to walk away from their homes as opposed to staying on and fixing them up.




For many Sandy’s wrath is a memory that happened six months ago.

But some home buyers and sellers are just now feeling its power surge through the real estate market in coastal areas.


“Not one property has closed to date in Sea Bright since the storm,” said Donna Markowitz, broker-manager at Gloria Nilson and company real estate in Keyport, New Jersey.


In parts of New Jersey, coastal properties are selling for much less than they were worth before the storm. 


Many homes that were flooded will have to be raised up to new flood elevation standards set by FEMA.  And they’ll also incur increased costs for flood and homeowner’s insurance.  Those increased expenses, combined with the uncertainty of what new regulations will be, could be spooking buyers and coaxing sellers to drop their prices.


“There’s the uncertainty of the [FEMA flood] zones - we don’t have anything firm yet, we don’t have firm maps or elevations,” said Steve Acropolis, the Mayor of Brick Township, New Jersey.


The uncertainty is causing some to walk away. 


In the working class town of Keyport on the Raritan Bay, two Sandy-damaged homes on the market in Keyport are on the market for about $70,000.


“Before Sandy, they would have been, in this market,  like a $240 to 250,000 home,” said agent Markowitz.


It’s a similar situation in tony Mantaloking, father south, where only one home sold on the open market since the storm struck. 


“It was on the market for $5.5 million before the storm.  The house was destroyed [during Sandy] and sold for $2.7 million, about half the value after the storm,” said Peter Zanowic, with Gloria Nilson and Company real estate in Bay Head, NJ.




According to Zillow, the online real estate site, there’s not enough data yet to determine via sale listings, if there’s a high volume of short selling going on.


But Zillow economist Svenja Gudell says there is added pressure on owners of homes seriously damaged by Sandy, particularly in the Garden State.


She said that in New Jersey, 25 percent of homeowners with a mortgage were underwater before Sandy hit, meaning they owe more on their homes than their property is worth.


“You’re getting the double whammy if you will,” Gudell said of those homeowners. “Not only were you underwater before, but now you’re even worse off because your home has been damaged.”


And some of those financially ‘underwater’ are more likely to sell at distressed property price instead of trying to cobble together a way to pay for repairs on what is already, a losing investment for them.


“That makes it easier for people to say: ‘It’s going to take so long for me to reach positive equity again in my home, I’m going to walk away from my home now,’ ” Gudell said.


This homeowner fatigue is expected to shake out overtime, experts say. 

As powerful as Sandy’s storm surge was, it’s not likely to influence buyers of shore properties a few years from now, if tradition is any guide. 


“The older homes that were destroyed, there will be brand new homes in there.  So the houses will be worth more, the market will rebound, and people will want to live here and spend money for it,” said Zanowic.


But some fear the rebuilding will force working class families away from the beach.


“It’s going to change the character of some towns, and I worry about young people being able to afford being on the water,” added Steve Acropolis, Mayor of Brick.


But in some storm-ravaged areas, like Long Beach, and on Long’s Island’s North Shore too, sales this spring have been less affected by Sandy.


“Waterfront [property] is a limited commodity [here] and it still commands the high numbers,” said Risa Ziegler, a licensed broker with Douglas Elliman in Huntington, Long Island.


The North Shore still lacks inventory, and it’s a desirable area.


Long Island’s South Shore sustained much more Sandy damage, and initially, home prices of flooded properties fell sharply.


But now, in anticipation of summer, sales are trending upwards.


“When Sandy first hit, I thought my career was over, I didn’t know how I’d sell another house here,” said Long Beach real estate agent Joyce Coletti.


But over time some started buying damaged homes on the South shore, and prices began rising, even for homes that had been gutted after storm damage.  In Long Beach, nine homes burnt after a car blew up during Sandy.


“I had a bidding war on burnt homes, that were burnt to the ground,” and we sold them,” added Coletti.


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Brian Lehrer Show: Six Months After Sandy

Monday, April 29, 2013

It's been six months since Hurricane Sandy caused flooding and destruction throughout the region. Matthew Schuerman, WNYC editor, and Scott Gurian, freelance reporter, discuss their reporting on the recovery, from the re-building in Long Beach, Long Island to how federal money is being used to improve infrastructure.

Plus: your six-month calls. How is the recovery going in your area? If your home was affected by the storm, have you decided whether to stay and do nothing, to renovate for flood prevention, or to move away from the shore altogether? Call 212-433-9692 or post your story here.

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6 Months After Sandy, Rebuilding but Not Necessarily Better

Monday, April 29, 2013

The city of Long Beach broke ground this weekend on its new boardwalk: 2.2 miles long, it will feature special braces that will tie the planks to the supports and a concrete wall that will hang down from in front of the boardwalk like a skirt, to break the waves the next time the Atlantic rises up against it.

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Cuomo Offers Sandy Homeowners Less Money in Buyout Program

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Cuomo administration is telling homeowners to expect to get a lot less money if they want their Sandy-damaged properties to be bought out by the state.

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Big Army Corps Study Looks at Depopulating Coast

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A $20 million study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on how to protect the Northeast from future hurricanes is going to look at a radical idea: relocating people who live too close to the water further inland.

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New Locale for Mayoral Forum: A Boat

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Instead of sitting around behind lecterns arranged on a stage, several candidates in the New York City's mayor race boarded a boat Tuesday to discuss Sandy and other waterfront issues at a forum sponsored by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance.


More Dunes for Staten Island, but Not for One Hard-Hit Neighborhood

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The New York City Parks Department will begin building dunes and berms next month in several places along the East Shore of Staten Island, but it is not reinforcing one of the hardest hit areas: Midland Beach.

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Lessons of Flood Buyouts from Around the Country

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

A couple dozen homeowners on Staten Island’s South Shore registered Tuesday to have their Sandy-damaged homes bought by New York state. They are the first of potentially hundreds of Sandy victims in both New York and New Jersey who may choose to sell their homes rather than repair them.

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Wall Of Steel Rising Between A Train and Jamaica Bay

Monday, April 01, 2013


It's official: New York is Holland now. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is building a wall to keep out the sea along a two-mile stretch of the A line on its way to the Rockaways.

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FEMA Flood Maps Engender Backlash

Monday, April 01, 2013

Advisory flood maps issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency over the past four months were supposed to help people figure out how to rebuild higher and stronger. But in some parts of the region, the maps have sparked a backlash because they will potentially require thousands of homes to buy flood insurance that did not need to before.

Comments [5]

Bloomberg Finalizes Plan to Buy Out Sandy-Damged Homes

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Bloomberg administration has finalized plans for the first tranche of federal Sandy aid, including a program that would let the city buy damaged properties from willing homeowners and resell them to others for more development.

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Bus Tour Brings Philip Roth's Newark to Life

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


It’s a curious way to celebrate a famous writer’s 80th birthday: go back to the city of his youth and read excerpts from his books.


Philip Roth and Fans Return to Newark for his 80th

Monday, March 18, 2013

Philip Roth fans and scholars from across the country are descending on Newark this week for several activities honoring the city's most famous literary son on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

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Interest in Sandy Buyouts Intensifies

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to buy out properties damaged by Sandy is catching on. At least five communities on Staten Island have organized efforts to take advantage of the buy-outs and hundreds of homeowners have expressed interest.

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Bloomberg to Offer Own Sandy Buy-Out Plan, with a Twist

Monday, March 04, 2013

Weeks after Gov. Cuomo proposed buying out homeowners in flood-prone areas, the Bloomberg administration is indicating that it will offer a similar program. But the mayor’s program could turn over acquired properties to someone else to be developed again.

Unlike Previous Disasters, Few Tax Breaks After Sandy

Comments [15]

Sandy Victims Face Relocating, Repairs and Now ... Foreclosure

Thursday, February 28, 2013

While many families whose homes were damaged by Sandy are receiving some mortgage relief from banks, advocates say the measures will only postpone a rash of foreclosures, not prevent them.

Comments [2]

Deadly Topography: The Staten Island Neighborhood Where 11 Died During Sandy

Monday, February 25, 2013

When Sandy hit, one section of Staten Island's Eastern Shore was particularly vulnerable: it sits in a bowl, several feet below a road that usually protects it from storm surges. See where 11 people died when the storm surged.

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