Five years ago, Hurricane Sandy blasted its way through the Caribbean and up the coast of the U.S., resulting in $70 billion in damages and 233 lives lost. When it hit the greater New York area at high tide, the storm surged and then moved slow, resulting in devastating damage. Hard truths were learned back in 2012, especially for areas that don’t typically brace for high-category hurricanes.
#1: It can (and will) happen again.
The hurricanes of 2017 are a present reminder of the “new normal” for hurricane season. The US experienced eight hurricanes in six weeks just this past season. And Sandy showed that when hurricanes hit the Northeast, the damage can be quite severe.
#2 Being ready is key.
To minimize damage, businesses and homeowners are encouraged to plan ahead for a worst-case scenario. Emergency generators will keep a building going and flood gates and flood doors offer increased protection.
#3 Tools are available to make a plan.
Taking the time to think through everything you’ll need before a storm hits is best, rather than two days before the rain comes. Ready.gov offers valuable tips to prepare. The Red Cross also offers a good checklist to keep handy.
#4 Vulnerable areas in NYC will be addressed.
Better sea walls, stronger levees, and beefed-up jetties are all needed for metropolitan New York. A project slated to begin in 2019 will increase coastal protection for a five-mile stretch on Staten Island as will a $740-million “dryline” project for the Lower East Side. Likewise, bulking up the coast of the Rockaway beaches has long been identified, and projects have begun to reinforce those shores.
#5 Weather analysis has improved.
Since Sandy, storm tracking has improved the ability to keep hurricane watches up through the life cycle of a storm, according to the National Hurricane Center. In Sandy’s case, the storm was changing from a hurricane to an “extratropical cyclone,” but now meteorologists have better tools to measure both the wind threat and the surge threat, and more to the point, offer better warnings.