Number of the Day: $3.5 billion

May 24, 2013 | Number of The Day

At the start of the Memorial Day weekend, how much progress has New Jersey made in its recovery from Sandy? Well, if you ask Gov. Chris Christie, who has been traversing the state to announce that it’s “open for business, it’s been quite a lot. Christie’s office released a list of numbers that it said showed how much progress has been made in New Jersey’s recovery, but its not clear how much of a story it tells.

The most striking number is that the national flood insurance program has paid out $3.5 billion in claims to date.

Another $1 billion has been set aside — but not spent — for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shore protection programs. There have been $776 million in Small Business Administration Disaster loans approved, and nearly $400 million in FEMA grants. Municipalities have completed 126,416 housing inspections.

The state has overseen 8 million cubic yards of debris removed from the streets. There have been 50,000 cubic yards of debris removed from waterways. Nevertheless, it is unclear how much debris remains to be fished out and what has changed beneath the surface. The state Department of Environmental Protection plans to oversee state aircraft regularly flying over the coast line to search for debris and monitor water quality, and it urges municipalities to continually monitor beaches and the surf zone. Beachgoers are advised that beaches may have sudden and steep dropoffs, so they should swim only where there are lifeguards present.