Meet the Press   |  October 27, 2013

Superstorm Sandy one year later

NBC’s Brian Williams examines the impact of Sandy nearly one year after it hit the Northeast.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this coming week marks the one-year anniversary of hurricane sandy, devastating the northeast and particularly the jersey shore . it caused widespread damage. the effects are still being felt today. for my co-anchor brian williams , it was especially devastating for someone who lived where he worked. welcome, brian .

>> thank you, david .

>> we're looking at how personal this was for you, but as the anniversary comes, headlines pop up, "year after hurricane sandy, victims contest christie's status." what is your grasp as you talk to people, as you go there? how is it a year later?

>> something i realize, and it's taken me a year to realize it, david , i was so reluctant to use the k word a year ago, and that is, to compare it to katrina . but one thing i've learned in these 12 months, being here in the tri-state area, spending the entire summer back at the jersey shore where we have a place, and as you know, where i grew up. and having friends in the rockaways, staten island , breezy point is for this region. and given the density of the population, this was, indeed, our katrina . i can take you for long drivers on stretches of the jersey shore where very little has come back. you can point to the houses where the owners are gone. you can point to the places where they're rebuilding like the outer banks in north carolina up on stilts, where they're waiting for fema checks and state checks. 27,000 people or thereabouts in new jersey still out of their homes. even more in new york. this devastated and densely populated area, and like katrina , more than that it now questions people when they look at the water, when they look at where the water broke through when they wonder, is there any holding it back, and is this going to change the way we live and enjoy the coastline?

>> a lot of our viewers remember how personal your reporting of katrina was, when you started in this role at "nightly news." and yet for you to go home and cover a story that has taken on that magnitude was something different altogether. journalastically and personally.

>> yes, it was something to be with all those folks, what, 10,000 people in the superdome. we decided to ride it out with them and spent weeks in that area and grieved with them, and we still go back and stay in touch. but to have it be home, to have it with all your summer memories. every night when we sit in this very studio, we think about the fact that we have folks in all 50 states depending on us. we struggle to not have news that's new york-centric or washington-centric, remembering this is a big country . but this was home, it was this area. you can't trade where you're from, nor would i trade with anyone else, so if our coverage seemed personal, it was just because we couldn't prevent it. this was home getting ripped up before our eyes and large portions of it still are.

>> brian , as you go back, then, in the week ahead to look at it one year later, what are your big questions ? what have you found? what do you want to know now?

>> who is not being served, who has made the choice not to come back? among new jerseyans with that state motto , the government is stronger than the storm, most people i know wouldn't think of looef leaving, but we know some people who have reluctantly made that decision. government is coming in in a sweeping ways. there are cities and towns getting corrugated steel walls between them and the ocean. they didn't ask for that, but this looks like a survival tool. i want to know who is not coming back, i want to know who is not being served, and i want to know whose lives are being changed forever. we'll visit a place on tuesday where neighbors knew neighbors. you had no choice, you were heart against the other house. is that really going to come back? is it going to feel like the old place?

>> this impact in weather becomes a big debate for people, especially where government can help and where government can't do anything. brian , thanks so much.

>> david , thanks for having me.

>> in a programming note here, brian will be anchoring special coverage live in breezy point to mark the sandy anniversary. that's "nightly news" this coming tuesday.