It may be human nature to believe that the worst can never happen. Perhaps we can’t wrap our psyches around the thought of our homes and businesses –– our lives –– in tatters. Hurricane Sandy gave us a stiff shot of reality, bringing our worst fears to life.
For years, decades even, we have heard the warnings from storm watchers like civic activist Morris Kramer, a lifelong resident of the Long Beach barrier island. The Big One is coming, Kramer has said repeatedly. We must prepare.
Some people believed him. Most ignored him. Some laughed at him.
And so, for too long, Long Island has stood like a finger jutting into the Atlantic Ocean, wholly unprepared for a storm the magnitude of Sandy, which sent floodwaters as far north as Merrick Road –– the tidal line for a Category 2 or 3 hurricane.
Nowhere was the Island’s lack of preparedness more evident than at the Long Island Power Authority, whose hapless response to this superstorm elicited scoldings from Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and brought hundreds of angry residents to protests at LIPA headquarters in Hicksville.
It was a terrible two weeks for homeowners after Sandy hit, as they struggled to stay warm without electricity, bundling up in robes and winter coats in houses where temperatures plunged into the 40s, unable to begin the long process of cleaning out and rebuilding their storm-ravaged homes. Their desperation, their sense of helplessness, was palpable.
A week after the storm struck, 675,000 of the 1.2 million LIPA ratepayers who lost power remained in the dark. Two weeks after the storm, more than 90,000 still had no electricity. With so many people suffering, such numbers are simply unacceptable.