Solutions for Self-Reliance

What Sandy Did in Simple Terms, And What to Learn From it


Sandy did a lot of damage.  Here’s a quick summary of what actually happened.

Most of the damage from Sandy was done by the storm surge, but at levels above what was anticipated by the experts.

How much more?  The storm surge in New York’s harbor reached a historical high of 13.88 feet.  Wow.

That’s over three feet higher than the 10.5 foot record set by Hurricane Donna in 1960 and over four feet higher than NOAA anticipated.

You can see the predicted (green line) vs. the actual (red line) in the graph below.

Why was it so severe in New York?  The storm surge was funneled down Long Island Sound, which concentrated it on New York City.

NOTE:  Here’s a very simple explanation of what a storm surge is, and why it is dangerous: “Why Sandy is Scary in Simple Terms.”

In terms of damage, the storm surge did what we expected it to do:  It flooded the low-lying areas on the waterfronts of New York and New Jersey.

The damage from the storm surge can be divided into three categories:

  • Structural damage.  Lots and lots of water damage to low-lying homes and buildings.  Some of the structures that were “on” the water were destroyed (for example:  the Atlantic City Boardwalk).  There was also a massive 110-home fire in Queens.
  • Infrastructure damage.   The water, energy, sewage, and transportation infrastructure that New York relies upon is located below sea level.  A large percentage of that was flooded with corrosive salt water.  We don’t really know what the long-term impact will be.
  • Service interruptions.  The service networks that New York and New Jersey rely upon broke down.  These interruptions include food deliveries to supermarkets, gasoline to gas stations, and others.

What else happened?

Fortunately, it didn’t rain as much as expected or as much as Irene did.  Here’s what NASA measured.

As you can see in the picture above, most of the rain fell over the Atlantic Ocean.

Also, the wind damage, although very widespread since we felt it in the Boston area, wasn’t nearly as intense as a more concentrated hurricane.  Here’s a map of the peak gusts experienced during the storm (from EQECAT).

What can we learn from Sandy?

The simple answer is that Sandy is the type of extreme weather event we are going to see much more of in the future due to climate change.

As bad as it is, climate change is something you and I can deal with by making small changes to our homes and communities.

How will climate change impact your life will depend on where you live.   It also depends on what you do right now to become resilient.

The same is true with almost all of the other BIG problems the global system is facing (economic, political, financial).

The key is to learn how the problem will specifically impact you and then what you can do about it.   Using this approach, the challenges and the solutions become clear and tangible.

Real solutions that you can implement in your life.

Armed with this knowledge, the generalized fear and negativity caused by these global scale problems fade away.  You also get the added benefit that implementing these resilient solutions will improve your life, your family’s life, and the lives of people in your community.

So what’s stopping you?


Resiliently Yours,



PS:   Don’t know where to start and want to learn how?  I’ve just written a report called “Water Abundance” that provided details on how climate change will impact your life and what you can do to reduce its impact.  To get it, sign up for Resilient Strategies today.  There’s a special Charter Membership available until Sunday night.  Let’s get through this together.  Don’t become a hostage to your own fear.  Get informed and act!

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