It’s hard to believe that the wounds inflicted by Hurricane Sandy are now six months old.
For some, those wounds have healed, but for others they remain as raw as they were the morning of Oct. 30.
As we have gone about picking up the pieces and rebuilding, we Long Islanders have learned many lessons from the storm. One of the first was that the next time authorities recommend evacuating the area before a hurricane hits, we should follow their recommendation. Six months ago we were lucky that more people who stayed behind weren’t killed. When the floodwaters rise again — and it’s inevitable that they will — more of us need to remind ourselves that it’s better to lose your home than your life.
We also learned more than we ever wanted to know about insurance policies. We learned which companies were conscientious insurers and which didn’t seem to care about their policyholders. We learned how much easier it is to replace a car than a house. And some of us, unfortunately, learned that we weren’t as well covered as we thought. Many Long Islanders are still struggling with their insurance companies and banks to get the money they need — money they’re owed — to rebuild their homes.
Lots of people learned lessons about how important it is to be prepared for a major storm, and the reminders will begin again a month from now, when hurricane season returns. We should all keep emergency “go bags” handy, filled with clothes, batteries, nonperishable food and copies of important documents, and have laminated, waterproof copies of the most important of those documents in case our homes are flooded.
The storm taught us that although we can rebuild, we can’t simply remake everything the way it was. If we do, we’ll have the same problems when the next hurricane hits. Some homes in flood-prone areas simply shouldn’t be rebuilt, and others should be redesigned. Many people in Long Beach have taken this lesson to heart: As they rebuild, they are raising their homes to make them less vulnerable to flooding. This will change the character of some areas of the city, but it’s a necessary change.