Weather forecasters are often criticized for being wrong. With Hurricane Sandy, we wish they had been.
For days, meteorologists predicted that the storm, a hurricane that morphed into a nor’easter, would be like nothing our region had seen in generations, and they turned out to be right. The coastal flooding laid waste to Long Beach and Island Park, and parts of the Five Towns, Oceanside, Baldwin, Bellmore, Merrick and Freeport won’t be back to normal for some time.
Close to a million Long Islanders lost power, and tempers flared in the hours-long lines at gas stations where pumps were working. The National Guard handed out rations, schools were deserted, trains were idled and there were vehicular free-for-alls at blacked-out traffic lights. The list goes on.
Even though we were warned about the ferocity of the storm, few anticipated the extent of the devastation, or wanted to believe that it was even possible. “That doesn’t happen here,” most of us thought. We now know that it does, and we must take steps to prevent such devastation in the future.
The recovery will take weeks, and in some places, months. We must use this period, while the scenes of destruction are still fresh in our minds, to learn how we can better prepare the region for another storm like Sandy. After all, given the erratic weather of recent years, the next storm of the century might come our way next year.
First, it’s up to our leaders to determine where the preparation for and response to the storm fell short. We encourage County Executive Ed Mangano to organize a meeting of the minds — county legislators, town supervisors, mayors, directors of critical agencies — to discuss what happened in each community. Elected officials should find out which problems were common to many of our communities, and which were unique to certain locales in Nassau County. They need to learn from one another exactly what worked and what didn’t. This debriefing and analysis is critical and urgent. Experts like engineers and scientists should be invited.