Hurricane Sandy: Assessing the Damage

Posted by Matt Buchanan

Path of Desctruction From Hurricane SandyThe economic impact of Hurricane Sandy has yet to be determined. The storm caused human and property damage that will take years to completely tally. Current estimates say the total cost is going to run second to that attached to Hurricane Katrina, which fractured Louisiana and the surrounding area. Analysts anticipate upwards of $20 billion in property damage, and some $30 billion in lost business. Those numbers are cautious estimates, and could be adjusted up or down, depending on what might be found as adjusters complete their findings.

The physical effects of Sandy include electrical blackouts for more homes and businesses that any storm has ever caused. Millions of properties are still without electricity, and the best estimates say they will be that way for at least another week or so. Huge amounts of sand from New York and New Jersey shore lines are piled up on roads and in neighborhoods. Returning that sand to its rightful place is going to be a monumental task. But it must be done quickly so that workers can begin the chore of restoring or removing damaged buildings.

A great number of homes and buildings along the Eastern Seaboard were built with basements. The massive surge of sea water that breached sea walls, along with large amounts of rain, has flooded most of those properties. The sea water in those flooded basements and subways will continue doing damage so long as it remains in place. It corrodes and generally weakens the integrity of building materials to a point where total replacement is the only alternative. Unless home-owners have access to reliable generators, they won’t be able to drain the sea water from their basements. The other side of that issue involves what will fuel the generators. At least one gas station in the New York City area, that somehow managed to keep its pumps going, was busy filling cars from a line of desperate drivers some two miles long. The proprietor admits that once his gasoline/diesel tanks are empty, he has no idea when his supplier will return. His experience likely personifies how hard it will be to fill-up in the near future.

New Jersey boardwalks in places like Atlantic City and Point Pleasant Beach have either been obliterated or severely damaged. But prime tourist attractions in those areas were not totally destroyed. Several bars and restaurants, along with custard stands and pizza parlors, remain commercially habitable. That gives hope to business owners that there may be some semblance of tourism when summer rolls around next year.

Natural disasters bring out the con artists. The best advice law enforcement can give is to not deal with anybody whom you don’t know, or know about. The scam scum will hit you with pleas for donations to help displaced people. Another favorite scam is to offer home repair at discount prices, so long as you pay up front.

Overall, the amount of devastation has been almost unprecedented.  As a country and individuals, it’s time that all of us do everything possible to help those that have been affected!


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About Matt Buchanan

I grew up in Irving, TX and left for Nashville, TN for college. After college I lived in Washington, DC and then in Cairo, Egypt. After coming back to the states, I spent a couple of years back in Dallas before moving with my wife to Denver!
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