Poll: Most in N.J. say it will take years to return to normalcy after Sandy

NEW BRUNSWICK – For most New Jerseyans, life post-Superstorm Sandy is not back to normal and most think it will be years before it does return to normal.

That is the result of a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll.

While 15 percent of those who say normalcy has not returned are optimistic that it will return within one year, 64 percent see a one- to five-year horizon before the state returns to pre-Sandy conditions, the poll shows.

Nearly 20 percent are more pessimistic: 11 percent think a return to normal will take five to 10 years, 2 percent see it taking more than a decade and 7 percent say the state will never get back to normal.

“Most residents recognize Sandy recovery is a long-term process, and know it will be quite some time before we have recovered,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers.

“In addition they support efforts to ensure damage of this magnitude is less likely in the future, even if it means implementing such costly measures as dune construction and elevated buildings.”

Nearly 90 percent either strongly or somewhat favor the mandatory use of pilings to elevate buildings in flood-prone areas and require the building of sand dunes or seawalls.

More than 80 percent want to encourage rebuilding of homes and businesses further from the waterfront.

According to the poll, about 70 percent are at least somewhat supportive of converting formerly developed land into public beaches, parks or wetlands, and nearly the same percentage supports using public funds to replenish sand and create wider beaches.

New Jerseyans are all but evenly split – 48 percent favoring, 47 percent opposing – on whether shorefront development should simply be repaired to its pre-Sandy state without significant changes. Just over half give some support to abandoning parts of waterfront towns if repairs are seen to cost “too much in government funds,” but others would rebuild regardless of cost, the poll shows.

Results are from a poll of 923 New Jersey adults conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from April 3-7. The margin of error is +/-3.2 percentage points.
“For the most part, New Jerseyans seem realistic about the challenges facing the state,” said Redlawsk. “While some see things as already back to normal, most recognize the recovery effort is a long-term event. While people hope it will all go well, they recognize it’s a long slog.”