Now another pivotal issue must be dealt with in the near future:
Should battered New Jersey rebuild at The Shore?
According to a report by Fox 5 in Baltimore, some environmentalists say New Jersey should consider not rebuilding everything lost to Superstorm Sandy.
U.S. Geological Survey scientist Jeffress Willliams says that rising sea levels and changing weather patterns make it likely that the coast will be hit by more frequent destructive storms.
He and other shoreline advocates say officials should consider restricting development to reduce the harm storms can do. They suggest relocating homes and businesses farther from the ocean, building more seawalls and keeping sand dunes high.
Gov. Chris Christie says the Shore is too important not to rebuild. But he leaves the decision whether to build again to individual property owners.
Environmentalists and shoreline planners urged the state to think about how to redevelop the shoreline as it faces an even greater threat of extreme weather.
"The next 50 to 100 years are going to be very different than what we've seen in the past 50 years," S. Jeffress Williams, a scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey's Woods Hole Science Center in Massachusetts, told Seattlepi.com.
The sea level is rising fast, and destructive storms are occurring more frequently, said Williams, who expects things to get even worse.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, disagreed with Christie’s philosophy of Shore renewal, saying that rebuilding after Sandy should include new ways to prevent damage from future hurricanes and storms.
Shoreline advocates, according to Seattlepi.com, say there are three ways to protect the shore from extreme weather: build more jetties and seawalls, keep beaches replenished and relocate homes and businesses.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it's also moved more than 65 million cubic yards of sand for replenishment projects in New Jersey. The state government has done additional projects without federal assistance.
Environmentalists say moving sand can cause harm to the areas it's moved from and might not be a good match for its new location. The supply of usable sand also is limited, they say.
"It's like a bad drug habit," said Chad Nelsen, the environmental director of the Surfrider Foundation, a national organization dedicated to preserving beaches and oceans. "Once you start, you can't stop."
More on rebuilding The Shore, from Seattlepi.com
The federal government pays for much of the beach protection programs. Including state and local contributions, shore protection programs with federal involvement from Manasquan to Cape May have cost taxpayers $475 million since 1988. The state has a $25 million-per-year beach protection fund, much of which goes toward the federal projects, but some goes to other measures.
Peter Kasabach, executive director of the planning advocacy group New Jersey Future, says subsidies that encourage rebuilding as things were, including federal flood insurance, are problematic.
"We've built in places that we shouldn't have built and now those places are becoming even more hazardous and more expensive to stay in," he said. "As we grow and develop, we should make sure we don't continue to invest in those places."
He suggested bans on building in some sensitive beach areas, or requirements that homes be built farther from the ocean.