LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP, N.J. — In its tear of destruction, the megastorm Sandy left parts of New Jersey's beloved shore in tatters, sweeping away beaches, homes, boardwalks and amusement parks.
The devastation left the state a blank canvas to redevelop its prized vacation towns. But environmentalists and shoreline planners urged the state to think about how — and if — 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," said S. Jeffress Williams, a scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey's Woods Hole Science Center in Massachusetts.
The sea level is rising fast, and destructive storms are occurring more frequently, said Williams, who expects things to get even worse.
He and other shoreline advocates say the state should consider how to protect coastal areas from furious storms when they rebuild it, such as relocating homes and businesses farther from the shore, building more seawalls and keeping sand dunes high.
How to rebuild after the disaster is becoming an issue even as New Jersey assesses its damage.
The state's death toll from Sandy climbed to at least 14, 2 million customers remained without electricity and earth-moving equipment made its way for the first time to hard-hit barrier island communities.
National Guard members went door-to-door on Long Beach Island to check on survivors and delivered supplies to heavily flooded Hoboken. President Barack Obama, skipping campaign appearances, came to New Jersey to see the damage.
In Hoboken, a one-square-mile city on the other side of the Hudson River from New York City, at least 25 percent of the community was flooded and 90 percent was without power. National Guard troops delivered food and water as officials sent out a plea for boats and generators.