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Oct 29

Hurricane Sandy One Year Later

Posted by: Vicki Thomas in DRJ Blogs

Tagged in: hurricane sandy

Vicki Thomas

Today, Oct. 29 marks the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. This was the most devastating storm of 2012 and the second most expensive in the history of the United States. 

A quick online search reveals a range of opinions, facts and photography collections that tell the story of Hurricane Sandy. Lives were lost. Homes were destroyed. Livelihoods were crushed. People have started to recover - some areas of the Eastern Seaboard are in "better" condition than they were before the Superstorm Sandy hit. 

With an influx of funding and support, many businesses, cities/towns and people have been able to rebuild and get back to life as they knew it. This returning to life as it was before the storm though, could just be the source of the problem. 

The thing about Hurricane Sandy was that it was predicted. Researchers and scientists knew it was coming. City and government officials through-out the East coast were warned of the force and destruction that this storm would bring. 

In 2007 New York released PlaNYC, a blueprint for making the city sustainable for decades, including adaptation to climate change. Work on a few of the recommendations began, but many went unfunded. In 2009 a group of scientist convened by the city, the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), published a report saying the city should plan for up to two feet of sea level rise by 2100 as well as significant storm surges. (From Scientific American)

This is nothing new. In fact a quick review of the many environmental and weather-related disasters that have occurred in recent years, have all been predicted. We've been warned. But for some reason, it seems easier to simply ignore the facts and continue on - hoping that the predictions are wrong. 

When is this cycle going to change to one in which decision-makers act on the research, science, facts and history? This holds true for not just environmental disasters - but any interruption in business - having a plan, communicating, reviewing what worked and didn't work, updating the plan in response to experience levels, and admitting that yes, at times things won't operate "according to plan". 

With everything that did go wrong with Hurricane Sandy, this article in the New York Times about the subway system and the response/preparations by transit officials and employees is an interesting read. It is also encouraging to read that some cities and communities are not idly standing by this time and are proactively working to be prepared for the next storm that hits. (This photo collection gives us a good look at what things looked like one year ago and now today.) Of course, not all areas hit by Superstorm Sandy have recovered - this article gives us some insight into what folks in New Jersey are dealing with.  

So in light of Hurricane Sandy and it residual effects, where does this leave those of us who work in and are focused on DR and BC? Tough question - but really it all comes down to communication and working hard to remind decision-makers that the impacts of inaction are much more costly than spending money and time now to be prepared and ready.