Habitat impacts from Hurricane Sandy difficult to assess

The East Coast is still struggling to get basic services back in place after Hurricane Sandy battered coastal communities and affected millions of residents, but, with the help of conservation partners, Ducks Unlimited is beginning to assess the long-term impact the storm will have on waterfowl habitat.

"It's the sort of thing where you can see that there are breaches in seawalls and debris and vegetation where it shouldn't be, but it's hard to say at this point how long repairs will take, and how serious the damage is," said Kurt Anderson, DU regional biologist. "In the next few weeks staff will be better able to get into these areas and see what's really going on."

Nick Biasini, who works for Ducks Unlimited in hard-hit New Jersey, echoed Anderson's sentiment. "There are some basic safety issues still being addressed. There are roads that have buckled, there are trees everywhere and power is not a guarantee," he said. "Not to mention the fact that conservation staff is dealing with damaged public areas at the same time they are dealing with the same flooding, wind damage and outages at their own homes. There are a lot of people in the coastal areas, and way inland, who are still suffering from the effects of Sandy."

To Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall, the former head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the scope of a natural disaster like Sandy is very familiar.

"Making sure people are safe is the first priority in any disaster," Hall said. "Conservation staff from around the region has a significant challenge ahead in assessing the damage from Hurricane Sandy. In the meantime, we have the people who are still struggling in the storm's wake in our thoughts and prayers."