New Jerseyans still feel the effects of Sandy almost 18 months after the Superstorm wreaked havoc here as they continue to express skepticism that normalcy will return any time soon, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Two-thirds of residents say the state is not yet “back to normal” following the storm.
Among those who think recovery is not finished, just eight percent are optimistic that it will be complete within the next year. Another 58 percent think it could be up to five years before things return to their pre-Sandy conditions, while 12 percent see it taking up to a decade. And some New Jerseyans are even more pessimistic: 4 percent see recovery taking more than a decade, and 13 percent say pre-Sandy normalcy will never return.
“What’s striking is how many New Jerseyans are still less than optimistic about Sandy recovery,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “A year ago, 78 percent thought New Jersey was not fully back, a reasonable finding just six months after Sandy. But the number has been stuck since November, suggesting a long-term sense that putting things back together is a rough task.”
Most residents also continue to give mediocre ratings to the recovery’s progress. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning “not at all recovered” and 10 meaning “fully recovered,” recovery of the Shore region is rated at 5.0 on average, barely changed from November 2013, and lower than the 6.2 rating recorded in June 2013. Garden Staters score recovery for homeowners who sustained damage even lower, at 4.8, while assessments of tourism and business recovery are much more favorable, both at an average of 5.9. All show little change since November.
“Despite five more months of recovery efforts, New Jerseyans do not perceive any real progress,” noted Redlawsk. “The number thinking recovery is more than five years off is actually up somewhat, and recovery ratings have stalled.”
Even while discouraged about the status of recovery, residents are more positive on how the state government has handled Sandy recovery efforts overall: 15 percent say very well, 52 percent say somewhat well, 19 percent say somewhat badly, and 9 percent say very badly.
Results are from a statewide poll of 816 New Jersey adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from March 31 to April 6, 2014. The poll has a margin of error of +/-3.9 percentage points.