Well, we were warned.
For many years, at the start of each hurricane season, the people of Long Island were reminded that a major hurricane could hit our area. The evidence was the stories and photos of the Long Island Express in 1938, the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, and Hurricanes Gloria in 1985 and Bob in 1991.
Often, our thinking, reflected in a lack of proper preparation, was: This isn’t Florida or the Gulf Coast. The odds that Nassau County would be hit by a major storm are minimal.
In 2011 we had a reminder of our relative complacence, when Tropical Storm Irene caused power outages and damage in the more flood-prone areas of the county — Long Beach, Island Park, Freeport.
And then came Sandy, which, understandably, came to be known as a superstorm. Nothing in any survivor’s memory matched the trail of destruction the storm left in its wake. Thousands of homes and business were flooded or destroyed, and some will never be reoccupied. Thousands of trees were violently pulled out of the ground or toppled, damaging houses and cars and severing power lines. Power was out for days, and in many unlucky neighborhoods for weeks. Low-lying areas of Nassau County, such as Freeport’s Nautical Mile, are only now regaining their former luster.
For many of us, hardship caused by the storm continues, 10 months later. At a recent community forum, Freeport Mayor Robert T. Kennedy said that the storm damaged 3,400 homes in his village, and 500 of them are still not occupied. For many of those who have been determined to stay, the difficulties linger: Although insurance companies estimate that more than 99 percent of the 143,000 Sandy-related claims in the area have been closed and approximately $7.8 billion has been paid out to survivors, some residents are still fighting with their insurers over what they need to rebuild their homes, and others are still pondering the difficulty — and the expense — of elevating their residences in preparation for the next storm.