Nightly News   |  April 29, 2013

For many on Jersey Shore, a slow Sandy recovery

In New Jersey alone, 39,000 people remain displaced six months after Hurricane Sandy swept through the East Coast. NBC’s Katy Tur reports.

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>>> it was six months ago today, october 29 of 2012 , hurricane sandy came ashore northeast of atlantic city , new jersey. what a legacy it left behind . 159 people lost their lives and the storm surges and winds brought a staggering $78.8 billion in damage to the northeast. nbc's katy tur has been covering the storm since that night six months ago. she's with us tonight from seaside heights on the jersey shore . good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian . behind me is one of the iconic images from the aftermath of sandy. the roller coaster that's sitting in the ocean. turns out it isn't the only thing, far from it, that's stood still since the storm. a nine-foot surge on the jersey shore . water and winds that ripped apart staten island and the fires and floods that levelled the rockaways. six months later and the world sandy turned upside down still fighting to right itself. in new jersey, 39,000 people remain displaced including the lemcools.

>> this is the kitchen.

>> reporter: when we first met them in union beach in december, they were a step away from homeless. wendy, her parents, her son gavin, the dog, cat and hamster spent four months, including the holidays, in a holiday inn sharing two small hotel rooms . today they have space in a temporary rental and now know their home needs to be torn down.

>> it's just hard to look at. knowing that we have to demolish it. this is where he grew up. this is where he grew up. i don't know if we can afford to rebuild.

>> reporter: almost line of sight from union beach is staten island . here in january, scott and dee mcgrath's first floor was little more than a walk-in freezer.

>>> 39.

>> 39 degrees.

>> there are so many holes in the walls and the wind blowing. there's just no way.

>> reporter: now they have walls and heat, but still no final flood map from fema.

>> we're very willing to raise our house to stay. it's only a matter of knowing how high we have to go.

>> reporter: their second floor intract, the mcgraths never left their home, unlike many other new yorkers. 250 families are still living in hotels. in the rockaways, perhaps the most obvious signs of progress are the empty streets. beech 130th, once charred --

>> this is a firefighter's home.

>> reporter: -- is now empty.

>> people are back. most of the homes are repaired. they are a proud people. resilient folks. we're doing better than i thought we would six months later.

>> reporter: more than $8 billion has been paid out by fema and the national flood insurance program so far to people along these shores. helping a recovery that for many is still far off. brian , this is the seaside heights boardwalk. it, like so many others up and down the shore, are being hurriedly rebuilt hoping to bring normalcy and business back for the summer season. brian ?

>> katy tur, seaside heights , at what will be the boardwalk