The events of Octo­ber 2012  in the NY/NJ area are well known to the nation.  Hur­ri­cane sandy made land­fall and wreaked hav­oc on many towns.  Being one of the most dense­ly pop­u­lat­ed areas on the plan­et, the dam­age was in the bil­lions.  Major parts of the NY and NJ infra­struc­ture were dam­aged includ­ing rail­ways, roads, ship­ping chan­nels, and pow­er sta­tions.  Most peo­ple were caught with their pants down and found them­selves out of work, out of food, out of gas, or out in the cold.  New Jer­sey state gov­ern­ment has made some changes to the bar­ri­er islands and the build­ing codes along the shore as a result of the dam­age.… unfor­tu­nate­ly, many of the peo­ple and their reliance on the nan­ny state has not changed at all since the storm hit.  Lets take a look at some changes that have been made and see what can be done bet­ter to help miminize the cat­a­stroph­ic dam­age a storm like this can do.

 sandy 1   sandy 2

Some peo­ple board­ed up busi­ness­es…



sandy 3 some could do noth­ing but tear down what was after the storm had passed.




First, pro­tect­ing prop­er­ty.  Some­times that could be as sim­ple as mov­ing it.  NJ tran­sit lost a large por­tion of their trains because some­one made the deci­sion to leave them in a ter­mi­nal in Hobo­ken, pret­ty bad idea con­sid­er­ing they could have been moved miles away from the coast.  The num­ber of boats destroyed in the storm was amaz­ing… some of them were larg­er ves­sels which take time to remove from the water… but many were small­er boats that could have been loaded on trail­ers and dri­ven miles inland.  While dri­ving through a deves­tat­ed por­tion of the state on Route 35 sev­er­al days after the storm, I saw a 16 foot boston whaler on top of a roof in a low lay­ing sec­tion… and count­less oth­er small boats stacked up like cord­wood in and around mari­nas.

  sandy 4  

Boats, cars and oth­er prop­er­ty can be moved away from poten­tial storm dam­age areas.




sandy 5

Stor­ing gen­er­a­tors and oth­er tools in secure loca­tions is para­mount







In addi­tion, many cars were dam­aged from tidal surge because own­ers failed to move them to high­er ground.  Theft of gen­er­a­tors and gas cans became a big prob­lem in some areas… secur­ing items like these does­n’t take much effort of inge­nu­ity.  A heavy duty lock and chain, a job box, or even a lock­ing cap in a truck bed could do the trick.  Some plan­ning on an own­ers part could have spared them a lot of headache after the fact.

Sec­ond, build­ing better/smarter.  Many of the hous­es that were dam­aged dur­ing Sandy have been con­demned or will need to be raised.  Some homes that were built prop­er­ly to begin with faired the storm pret­ty well… these homes have “break away” walls in the ground floor (which was used as stor­age or garages) while the liv­ing quar­ters are sev­er­al feet above ground, pro­tect­ing every­thing valu­able.

 sandy 6 

Some homes have been deemed a total loss…





sandy 7

or home­own­ers have just giv­en up.





sandy 8    

Some new con­struc­tion requires items being raised above pro­ject­ed water lev­els…






sandy 9

and some prop­er­ty own­ers have done it on their own.





Most new homes being built in the flood­ed area will be con­struct­ed this way.  Some peo­ple have even tak­en to mov­ing impor­tant items such as AC units, washers/dryers, and even yard equip­ment up sev­er­al feet as well.  Think about what

Third, store what you can. With the chan­nels into the rar­i­tan bay unnav­i­ga­ble, it was­nt long before gas sta­tions start­ed run­ning out of fuel.  Pow­er was out for days (weeks in some areas) and every one with a gen­er­a­tor was run­ning it, caus­ing long lines at gas sta­tions for both cars and peo­ple with cans.  The gas short­age in the effect­ed area called for gas rationing laws to be insti­tut­ed.

sandy 10    

Obtain­ing gaso­line became a chore dur­ing the lengthy pow­er out­age…





sandy 11

and police were tasked with keep­ing lines from becom­ing riots.





Peo­ple were steal­ing gaso­line from yards, sheds, and even syphon­ing it from cars… and some filled gas cans were sell­ing for exor­bi­tant prices on ebay and craigslist.  Peo­ple with gaso­line guard­ed it well and took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to get more when they could.  Per­son­al­ly I had 50 gal­lons in cans before the storm and was lucky enough to be in a net­work of peo­ple who took turns run­ning into penn­syl­va­nia with pick­up trucks full of gas cans to keep every­one re-sup­plied… so I nev­er went below 35 gal­lons on hand.  I ran my gen­er­a­tor spar­ing­ly for the 5 days I was with­out pow­er… 4 hours in the morn­ing so my daugh­ter could watch car­toons and we could make cof­fee, and 4 hours in the evening so I could watch the news and heat the house with an elec­tric space heater… the refrig­er­a­tor and chest freez­er were alter­nat­ed to keep things cold.  By not draw­ing too much pow­er for my house, I was able to give pow­er to 3 of my neigh­bors so they could watch tv, charge cell phones, and a few oth­er odds and ends… all off of a 6500 watt gen­er­a­tor.   Using the pow­er spar­ing­ly was the key… and it allowed us to ration fuel for an extend­ed peri­od of time (I found I burned through about 5 gal­lons per day).  In addi­tion to gas, food was in short sup­ply (trucks could­nt move due to dam­aged roads and lack of fuel)… hav­ing a good sup­ply was impor­tant.  I took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to intro­duce my daugh­ter to MRE’s… she actu­al­ly liked them, but the whole expe­ri­ence was a nov­el­ty to her and the joys of in home camp­ing prob­a­bly soon would have worn off… thats where the good sup­ply of can­dy and oth­er com­fort foods comes in.  I nev­er ran out of milk but in case I need­ed it, we have a good sup­ply of dehy­drat­ed milk, baby for­mu­la, etc in our food stor­age.  Our chick­ens kept pro­duc­ing eggs as well.    Sad­ly when I talk to peo­ple, many still dont have more than a few days food in their home.

Fourth, tools tools tools.  There was more than one per­son in my neigh­bor­hood whos home was dam­aged due to falling trees or heavy wind.  These homes sat exposed to the ele­ments because the own­er had no pow­er to cut wood to board up a win­dow, or cut a tree branch up and tarp the roof.  As men­tioned before my gen­er­a­tor was invalu­able for me and my neighbors.…but there were a few oth­er things I found use­ful (and almost neces­si­ties).  Cord­less, rechar­gable tools are a must for a sce­nario like this.  The Ryobi 18v series is fan­tas­tic… it has just about any tool you could need or imag­ine (cir­cu­lar saw, rec­i­p­ro­cat­ing saw, angle grinder, sander, drills, impact drill, etc).  I have a few basic tools I could use in an emer­gency and many, many bat­ter­ies that rotate through the charg­ers reg­u­lar­ly.

sandy 12         

Keep­ing tools stored, lubri­cat­ed and ready to go are incred­i­bly impor­tant.  Stag­ing them in a bugout vehi­cle before an impend­ing storm is equal­ly impor­tant. 




sandy 13



You nev­er know when you could need a chain­saw or sawza­ll.



hain­saws are invalu­able as well… I helped my neigh­bor remove a tree limb from his pow­er line before any seri­ous dam­age could be done.  I also moved two down trees from in front of my house that were block­ing my escape (side note on this: my actions pissed of the OEM work­ers that were putting up bar­ri­cades near­by, I was told to stop but ignored them because they could­nt give me a good rea­son why, I explained after I was done that if I need­ed to get out for an emer­gency the trees were block­ing my escape, they were still irate and threat­ened to have me arrest­ed.   I wasn’t arrest­ed… moral of the sto­ry, do what you need to do to pro­tect your­self and your fam­i­ly… even if the author­i­ties dis­agree).  You should also con­sid­er a shov­el, hand saw, tarps, ax, etc.  If you live in an apart­ment, you may be think­ing you have no need for that sort of thing… but what if youre dri­ving on a once flood­ed road and the mud that you thought was an inch deep is actu­al­ly a foot?  What if you have a tree branch block­ing your park­ing garage exit?  Small fold up items that fit in a trunk can be invalu­able in times like these.  Sad­ly, short­ly after the storm, craigslist was full of light­ly used gen­er­a­tors… own­ers pret­ty much dis­card­ing them after the storm bank­ing on the fact they would nev­er need them again.

Hur­ri­cane Sandy was a life les­son for many… and the les­son was they were unpre­pared. From the pre­ced­ing para­graphs, you can see what oth­ers did, have done, and what can be done bet­ter.  But the ques­tion remains, what have you done in the last few years to bet­ter your sit­u­a­tion?  Whether you were hit by sandy or not, a great deal can be learned from it.  There are steps you can take and items you should have on hand for any emer­gency… after all, its not just hur­ri­canes that can be a prob­lem.

sandy 14   sandy 15


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