The images from Hurricane Sandy are jaw dropping. From flooded subway stations, waterfalls into the Ground Zero area, destroyed piers, boardwalks and homes, Hurricane Sandy – “The Frankenstorm” – was a big one that Mid-Atlantic States, New Jersey and NYC have long feared. Right now, we don’t know the full costs in lost lives or destroyed infrastructure and homes, but we do know this – it’s going to take some time to get things back to any sense of normal in the affected regions.

That is probably one of the hardest parts of situations like these. Every one of us is anxious to pick up our lives at the exact point we put them on pause to deal with the storms. Unfortunately, flooded highways and tunnels, downed trees, broken power stations and other fractured infrastructure don’t repair themselves with ease or immediacy. In a region like the greater New York City area, which is always at full throttle on a daily basis, those challenges are only compounded because of population density, cost and demand.

The greatest thing that elected officials and public safety/emergency management and utility leaders will be pleading for the public to provide is patience. Regardless of situation or circumstance, time is the one luxury none of us ever has enough of, but it’s the one ingredient necessary to clean up and repair that which is in a present state of ruin.

Those words are more than easy for me to say as I type on my laptop at my kitchen table, enjoying power and heat that cocoons my family from the storm of the past 48 hours. My family is VERY lucky, and we know it. Other friends and family who were in Sandy’s path were not so fortunate, but no lives have been lost among them and for that we are very grateful.

Unfortunately for millions of others, schools, businesses, power and transportation sources are going to be interrupted for several days. That’s an awful thing to have happen as the weather starts to get colder and sunlight gets shorter but, it’s the current reality that we need to be honest about. FEMA, NYC OEM, the State of New Jersey and other authorities have been very upfront from the beginning about the scope of the situation they are dealing with. My counsel to anyone within earshot of them is to listen to every word they are saying. Their counsel can make every difference to you and your loved ones.

There is one more thing that people need to know and be reminded of – EVERY possible emergency responder, utility worker and anyone else with any type of knowledge and skill to correct the Sandy induced carnage is going to be busting their keisters 24-7 to make every situation right for everyone.

The only thing any of us can do in return is give them the patience to make it right. That will not be easy, but right now it’s the reservoir we need to tap.

Rich Cooper blogs primarily on emergency preparedness and response, management issues related to the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector’s role in homeland security. Read More
  • Ted Anthony

    Well put.