Lessons Learned From Hurricane Sandy, by The Angry Prepper

Tuesday, Apr 16, 2013

Hurricane Sandy tore through the northern eastern seaboard.  The hurricane combined with two other weather systems to create a Super storm (Some say).  The Hurricane or Super Storm created a destructive path that hasn’t been seen this far up north, ever.  Homes were damaged, properties were destroyed, and lives were lost.  This Hurricane had a lot to teach us.  A lot of us (Preppers) were prepared for this storm and tested our emergency plan for the first time, in real time.  We got to learn a lot about our emergency plan and some of us will patch the holes in our plans, if any.

What Happened:

Hurricane Sandy came through the Tri-State Area (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut), Maryland, and Pennsylvania with a force that hasn’t been seen in over a hundred years.  Hurricane Sandy ripped through cities, towns, and neighborhoods without any prejudice.  Hurricane Sandy also sent storm surges to drown out these areas.  High winds tore through homes and properties.  People were killed, injured and left homeless.  The Jersey Shores, Coney Island, Long Island, and parts of New York City’s landscape were changed forever.  24 states were effect by the Super Storm Sandy, Canada, and the Caribbean islands.  Hurricane Sandy reached a recorded 980 miles in diameter.

The Problems:

Evacuation Routes:  Many evacuation routes were compromised during and after Hurricane Sandy. Some people waited too long to leave while others tried to stay and found out the hard way that, that wasn’t a good choice. Train tunnels floods as well as traffic tunnels.  Bridges were shut down due to high winds. Some tried to leave after the storm and found out they couldn’t leave.  Taking evacuation advice seriously is a must and not something to take lightly. For this reason having more than one evacuation route is very important and so is leaving early.

Flooding:  Many cities, towns, and neighborhoods along the northeastern seaboard took on more water than anticipated.  The water moved with a force ripping houses off their foundations and relocating others somewhere in the area.  Vehicles were floating down the street.  Entire boardwalks were ripped away from their foundations, swept into the ocean and in many cases found more than a mile inland.  The massive amounts of salt water destroyed homes, basements, businesses, emergency services facilities, medical facilities and vehicles.  People drown from the flooding as well.  Some people were caught in there basements as the water came into their homes trapping them.  Two kids were swept away by waves of water.  The floods were made of a perfect combination of high winds, high tide, and a full moon all happening simultaneously. The highest recorded surge was in Battery Park City, New York at 13.8ft.

High Wind Conditions:  Trees, power lines, homes, and a sky crane were damage by high-sustained winds.  The sustain winds were as high as 80 mph. The gust of winds reached 109 mph.  The winds were not expected to be as high in the first reports of the hurricane’s approach.  The high winds also helped the water surge onto land.  The high winds also killed people as it sent trees through homes and debris into the air.  High winds also knocked the face of a building off and shook many buildings.  The high wind caused roof of homes to be ripped off, windows blown out, and homes to collapse. 

Power Outages: 8.5 million people (roughly) lost power due to Hurricane Sandy.  This included a power station in New York City, which had an explosion causing 800,000 customers to lose power. The power was knocked out due to high winds, fallen trees and tidal flooding.  The Hurricane caused black outs that could be seen from space satellites.  Hospitals and Nursing Homes had to be evacuated due to power loss and flooding. “Customers” went days, weeks, or even months without power.  Businesses were destroyed due to power outage. Rotting food and loss of income put some businesses out of business, for good. Even now, some homes still do not have power (2/11/2013).  With the power outage came something most people didn’t know about. Waste management systems dumped its waste into the surrounding bays, channels, and rivers due to loss of power. So, the floodwaters were contaminated as well.

Property Damage:  There was an estimate of 71.4 billion of dollars in damages that spread across 24 states.  As we all saw, homes were displaced from their foundation by tidal flooding carrying the homes away.  In some cases, home were found in completely different neighborhoods from their original location. If homes weren’t carried away by the floodwaters, then the homes were just flooded, which caused mold to grow in the days to come.  Trees fell through home, completely destroying the structure. Tens of thousands of vehicles were totaled due to flooding and tree falling on them.  Fires ripped through homes as well, mixed with the high winds turned the fire into a blowtorch, destroying hundreds of homes.  Boardwalks were ripped from their century old foundations as some of you seen with the New Jersey Shore boardwalk in Seaside Heights.  Sand also played a roll in destroying home, vehicles, and business. Sand from the ocean floor and beaches were brought onto land by wind and water.

Complete Destruction Of Areas and Neighborhoods:  Areas and neighborhoods were completely destroyed due to Hurricane Sandy. Breezy Point in New York was destroyed due to wind, water, and fire.  Over a hundred home were destroyed by fire.  A few thousand homes were flooded.  Some homes had their roofs blown off.  A few homes were relocated to other nearby neighborhoods via water.  The New York Aquarium on Coney Island was partial destroyed due to floodwaters and power loss.  Most of New Jersey’s shores were destroyed.  Some of the boardwalks were completely destroyed and pushed further inland or dragged out to sea.

Looting and Robberies: Looting came as no surprise to anyone but a few guys did try and break into a bank during the height of the storm.  They try to use a pickup truck to get the job done but once they rammed through the glass doors. They had no plan of action after that. Need less to say, they got nothing.  Some of the big chain stores were looted during the storm but once the storm passed. The looting picked up in pace and locations in New York City, I am not sure if looting took place in other states.  The police did a good job ending the looting spree here in New York City.  There were reports of robberies in some areas of the city after the storm passed.  There was one report of people being robbed for their emergency disaster supplies that had been given to them by Red Cross (I only heard that once during a news broadcast.)  Burglaries also spiked in neighborhoods that were hit hard and had less people due to evacuations.

After The Storm:

There were a lot of issues that arose from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Getting power back on for people. Logistics for disturbing food, water, and other necessary items for people became a problem.  Housing people who lost their homes became an issue too.  Lack of fuel was also an unforeseen problem.  A few deaths occurred from this storm as well. Some of these problems could have been avoided had the city had a better emergency preparation plan. 

Deaths: 118 people in the U.S. were killed due to Hurricane Sandy. 1 person in Canada and 69 people in Caribbean was also killed.  Some people were killed by floods, while others were killed by flying debris and falling trees.  Some people were even electrocuted.

Lack Of Supplies: There were huge problems with the distribution of food and water to those places that needed the help.  There was a breakdown in communication as to where and when food and water were going to be given out.  In Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York people showed up to the assigned time and place to receive their emergency provisions but instead the time would be changed to hours later.  Minor incidents broke out at these distribution locations.  Some fighting was reported but most were arguments that were reported by people who waited on line.  Some people had to resort to getting their water from open water hydrants and walk miles to get there food from neighborhoods that had power.  People in lower Manhattan had to walk north for food, which in some cases was better than a 5-mile walk.  Breezy Point, New York had the most help dedicated to them but even then Red Cross and FEMA dropped the ball.  Shelter became another issue for those that lost their homes.  People were taken to schools, armories, and churches after the storm.  The temporary occupants from a homeless shelter on Rockaway, New York trashed one school by urinating on the lunchroom floors, feces in the water fountain, and food discarded throughout the school.  The lack of logistics and communication breakdown made everything harder than it had to be.

Lack Of Fuel: The lack of fuel was a combination effect.  From gas stations having no power to retrieve the gas from the ground to refineries being shut down due to lack of power or terminals being destroyed due to floods, wind damage, and power loss.  Waterways for importing fuel were also closed due to debris blocking the waterway.  On top of all that 350,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled in the Arthur Kill Waterway in New Jersey, closing that waterway as well.  If gas stations would have had back up generators or emergency pump systems to retrieve the gas, that might of alleviated some of the gas problems. If refineries would of set their backup generators on higher ground like some of them could of done, then that would of cut down on the fuel shortage days.  Fights and arguments broke out on these gasoline lines, one guy got arrested for pulling a knife on another man just to skip the line.  There was free gasoline being given out at one point. Luckily I filled up my truck before the hurricane hit.  

What Didn’t Happen:

A stronger storm with the same conditions Hurricane Sandy had would have done far more damage.  If the winds were stronger way more trees, homes, and building would have been knocked down. More water would of reached further inland, flooding more homes and costing the states million dollars more.  More people would of died.  The recovery efforts would of taken a lot longer.  The fuel shortage would of taken months to recover.  Help from other states would have been minimal due to the fact that the storm might have been bigger in diameter and those neighboring states would have had to help themselves.  Now, just because Hurricane Sandy could have been stronger doesn’t mean that she would have been bigger but considering Sandy was a combination storm, she would’ve been bigger. Imagine if she would have been bigger in diameter.  Hurricane Sandy was 980 miles in diameter, that’s 560,000 square miles.

What I Learned:

I learned that I was more prepared than I original though.  For living in an apartment I had almost everything I needed for the storm.  I also learned that my wife could take care of herself.  I learned that she is actually paying more attention to me than I thought.  She took precautionary measure to assure our families’ safety while I was at work.

I should have had fuel canisters for extra fuel but I have nowhere to really store them in my apartment.  I was thinking at one point to store them on the fire escape but decide against it.  I need to get a battery-operated radio.  The hand crank radios are cool but only as a last resort.  Besides those two things I was pretty much squared away.

I also learned that water proofing most of your gear especially if you are going to keep your gear in the basement.  If you live in a flood zone and can only keep your gear in the basement.  You are going to have to finds a way to water proof all your gear if you want to keep it.  I heard of one prepper that lived in Breezy Point, lost everything due to flooding of his basement.

Bottom Line:

People need to be ready as our weather patterns are changing for the worst.  Having some stored foods and supplies will not break the bank.  Your family will thank you when the time comes.  You don’t have to prepare for the “end of the world” or an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack.  You should just be ready for things that are most likely going to happen such as bad weather emergencies.  There were people that haven’t recovered from Hurricane Irene and then get slammed with Hurricane Sandy.  Some people never even learned their lesson from Hurricane Irene. It is now time to take these lessons into consideration and take action into our own hands.

Conclusion:

People need to keep calm and be ready.  Depending on someone to come and help you sucks as many people are finding out in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  Be able to help yourself out and be ready. No one is saying to put a years worth of food away but you should have something put away for those bad days. 

The Total Numbers: (As of March 30, 2013)


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