These incredible before and after aerial  pictures show the destruction wreaked by Superstorm Sandy on the Atlantic Coast  of the U.S.

The shocking before and after photos of the  New York and New Jersey shoreline reveal in minute detail how much the land was  altered in just a few moments.

They are part of a large-scale survey of the  damage by the U.S. Geological Service, which is attempting to analyse the  devastation caused to houses, public services and the lives of people from the  battered seaside towns.

‘Sandy taught us yet again that not all  Cat-1 hurricanes are created equal,’ said USGS Director Marcia McNutt.  ‘The  superstorm’s enormous fetch over the Atlantic produced storm surge  and wave  erosion of historic proportions.

Ravaged: In Seaside Heights, New Jersey part of the pier and its rollercoaster have been thrown into the ocean. Sediment deposited on the island is visible in the background

‘We have seized this opportunity to gather  unique data on a major coastline-altering event.’

As major storms approach, the USGS conducts  pre-storm and post-storm flights to gather images along the length of the  coastline likely to take the hit of the storm’s landfall.

Pictures from these points of impact help  scientists understand which areas are likely to undergo the most severe impacts  from future storms, and improves future coastal impact forecasting.

Above: Peaceful: View of Mantoloking, looking west along the New Jersey shore, before Superstorm Sandy hit the barrier island’s wide beaches
Below: Torn apart: Days after the storm, the beach, houses and roads are destroyed. Construction crews are seen clearing sand from roads and pushing it seaward. The yellow arrow pinpoints the same spot in the two images

When the project is complete, it will stretch  from the Outer Banks of North Carolina in the South to as far north as  Massachusetts.

USGS oceanographer Nathaniel Plant said Sandy  caused ‘significant beach and dune erosion and minor disruption of  infrastructure in the south, to extreme and often catastrophic erosion, overwash  and sediment deposition and inundation on northern beaches like Mantoloking, New  Jersey.’

Overwash occurs when waves are higher than  protective sand dunes, sweeping sand from the beach inland.

This can wreak havoc on roads and public  transport, bury buildings and put lives at risk.

The photos will help USGS identify areas  particularly vulnerable to severe coastal change.

Before Sandy, the service predicted erosion  of 91 per cent of the Delmarva coastline, 98 per cent of beaches and dunes in  New Jersey and 93 per cent in New York.

It recorded drastic changes on Fire Island in  New York, where the beach all but disappeared overnight, seaside homes reduced  to matchsticks and 3ft of sand dumped in back gardens.

USGS coastal geologist Cheryl Hapke said: ‘On  average the dunes eroded back 70 feet – the equivalent of 30 years of change.

‘Our data also showed that dunes lost as much  as 10 feet of elevation.’

Source: The Daily Mail

At risk: A view of Pelican Island, looking northwest across Fire Island, near Old Inlet – a very narrow portion of the island that has experienced breaching in previous large storms – Below: The island breached during Sandy, creating a new inlet. Despite the breach, the  fishing shack (yellow arrow) remained standing


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