#SANDY BY THE NUMBERS
Maximum sustained winds at landfall: 90 mph
Storm Surge in New York Harbor: 14 ft
Number of lives lost: 285
Total estimated damage cost: $65 Billion
Number of Homes without power: 3 million
Number of Buildings Affected: 650,000
I remember that day and night very vividly. I live in Lindenhurst, a south shore community on Long Island. We chose not to evacuate, like many of my surrounding neighbors, but nobody ever expected it to be as bad as it was. I remember seeing the water down the block start to come up a tiny bit then stop. I figured, wow, that the worst of it? To my dismay, a few hours later, the water continued to rise - and rise fast. It came up right to my doorstep, knocking on my front door asking me to come out and look at the destruction.
I listened to Mother Nature and went outside and stood on my porch. It was a definite turning point in my life. I saw the water, the full moon, a smokey fog and a glow from the homes burning in the distance. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. One of the homes a few properties away from me caught fire and burned to the ground. As it was burning, my parents told me to pack 1 bag with the most essential items. This was probably the most difficult thing to do. What do you take from your life that can fit all in one bag? A computer? Some photos? We prepared to evacuate just in case the fire jumped over to closer homes and then potentially could have caught our house. Thankfully, this didn't happen, but that night I felt as if if definitely could have. Anything could happen.
Bulldozers, fire trucks, and National Guard vehicles became the methods of transportation in and out of the "disaster zone," as they called it. A disaster zone? We live in a disaster zone?! It was hard to think of my community like this. No power, cold temperatures, and a daily curfew affected how we saw our home, our block and the rest of our town forever.
I think that a year later, we are still very vulnerable - and I think that so long as we live on the coast, we will always be vulnerable. Climate change says that more storms are to come in the future - so we must become better prepared.
Much progress has been done, but we have a long way to go. The biggest step now is to implement community programs and training for EVERY resident. A big problem after Sandy was that nobody knew what to do. And that was partly because there was SO much confusing information coming from FEMA, NFIP, local and state governments, etc. But we can use this as a learning experience. ORLI tried its best to communicate very simply and effectively all of the information from the various different parties. We became a broker of information and we plan to grow and engage our local communities for years to come. Stay tuned as ORLI moves into the future of community planning and engagement.
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