This week we mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. For so many storm victims, it felt as though their world had been turned upside down in the aftermath of this monster storm. Overnight, they suddenly found themselves living in a war zone. Homes were destroyed — flooded and ripped apart so easily by a merciless tempest. People’s belongings were waterlogged and scattered about, swept away in the floodwaters.
We thought it couldn’t get any worse. Then came 2017.
It might be considered a failure of the imagination that no one envisioned a series of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes battering the United States — first in Texas, then Florida and finally in Puerto Rico — along with a number of Caribbean islands. The devastation we saw in Sandy’s wake was taken to a whole new level this year.
Harvey, Irma and Maria followed their own scorched-earth paths, tearing across the landscape with a ferocity we had not seen since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The oceans rose up as torrential rain came down. Buildings large and small crumbled. Whole forests were denuded by the tornado-like winds. Words truly cannot describe this year’s cruel weather patterns — or the human toll in lives lost and structures destroyed.
Five years have passed since Sandy hit, but there are still South Shore residents who have not yet been made whole, whose lives remain in limbo because their homes are yet to be repaired. We can only imagine what people in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and other locales will experience in the coming months and years.
So, what are we to do now?
One, we mustn’t forget Sandy. It should remain ingrained in our memories to remind us that extreme weather can strike at any time, and when it does, it’s never pretty. In any monster storm, we are rendered powerless. We must be ever vigilant, preparing for the next Sandy or Harvey, Irma or Maria. We can do so on a personal level by maintaining “go bags” full of emergency supplies so we can readily evacuate when we have to. On a societal level, we must reinforce our coastline to better withstand the next big hurricane — and make no mistake, there will be another.
At the same time, we must give what we can to this year’s hurricane victims. We must, as they say, pay it forward.
We have repeated this message on this page a number of times in recent months, but it’s worth saying it again now as we remember a day in the life of Long Island — Oct. 29, 2012 — that forever changed the lives of thousands of local people.