The 10th named storm of the 2012 hurricane season, Hurricane Sandy affected a wide swath of the Atlantic, with deaths extending from Haiti and Jamaica to Canada. While still out in the ocean, it affected North Carolina coastal areas, causing storm surges and flooding on barrier islands. As the storm came ashore in New Jersey, it was so massive that the effects were felt as far south as the mountains of Tennessee and West Virginia, and as far west as Lake Michigan. More than 200 deaths have since been attributed to the storm, with most of those in the United States.
Sandy has raised key questions about building in coastal areas, and raised concern and discussion of future storms; New York officials revived talk of a storm surge barrier to protect the city. The storm also recharged the issue of those who refuse mandatory evacuation orders, choosing to shelter in place instead. Hurricane Irene, which struck essentially the same area in 2011 without causing as much damage as feared, only complicated the issue of evacuation “need.”
As recovery from the storm continues, find updates, related damage, and needs here.
NGO and Donor Response
CDP is committed to sharing information that will directly help disaster-affected communities. If you are a donor or related NGO, please keep us posted on how you’re involved with Hurricane Sandy, including how you have been impacted, how you are responding with funds and/or services, and what the greatest needs are.
Discover what NGOs are doing.
Explore how donors are responding.
View a list of established relief and recovery funds.
Learn more about the CDP Hurricane Sandy Disaster Fund.
- Hurricane Sandy initially hit several Caribbean nations on Oct. 25, 2012, especially impacting Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba. There, 72 deaths were attributed to Sandy, which affected 5 million residents.
- In Haiti, where residents continue to struggle to rebuild from the 2010 earthquake, the floods that followed the hurricane severely affected food security. The United Nations anticipates more than 1.5 million people at risk of food insecurity in 2013 due to the damage caused by Sandy. Cholera, which had broken out post-earthquake, was a continuing concern.
- In Cuba, news of the devastation was slow to arrive though 20 percent of the population was affected. It took a full two weeks for the first aid to arrive, a 40-ton shipment from the United Nations. Another 40 tons quickly followed.
- The hurricane made landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29, 2012, colliding with winter weather systems already present and creating a “perfect storm” like the one endured in 1991.
- Widespread impact included destructive winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge flooding, and even heavy, wet snow.
- In New England, Hurricane Sandy was complicated when a Nor’Easter blew in a few days later, bringing another blast of cold air and high storm surges to the area.
- Power outages continued for weeks after the hurricane made landfall, yet many residents remained in their homes. The power outages caused difficult living conditions for many, with deaths still being attributed to the storm’s aftermath weeks later.
- Elderly populations were particularly vulnerable, in part due to the long power outages and cold weather that followed.
- With such a massive storm covering such a large region affecting such a large population, there were those who felt that aid was slow to arrive and the government wasn’t doing enough.
- The hurricane caused tens of billions of dollars in damages; New York was most severely impacted due to damage to subways and roadway tunnels.
- West Virginia and Tennessee received nearly three feet of snow as a result of the storm.
- In New York and New Jersey, the storm surges were higher than 13 feet above the average low tide.
- At the height of the storm, more than 7.5 million people were without power. For some residents, power would not return for weeks.
- It is estimated that the storm caused $50 billion in losses, placing it among the worst disasters ever to hit the U.S.
“Hurricane Sandy has proven the thesis upon which the Center for Disaster Philanthropy was founded. There is a need for greater attention on preparedness and recovery. There is a need for timely and relevant disaster-related information. And there is a need for a unified platform of resources for disaster philanthropists.” -Regine A. Webster, vice president and co-founder, Center for Disaster Philanthropy
How to Help
- Ensure the needs of vulnerable populations are being met. These include the elderly with no young relatives, the physically and mentally disabled (including veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder), etc. Invest in organizations that have a history of working in these areas and previous relationships with those involved.
- Support programs that mitigate volunteer burnout. This is especially so for volunteers who have suffered their own losses.
- Create preparedness programs that include potential outcomes, as well as weather forecast models that include consequence analysis. Improved risk analysis may help future populations be more willing to move out of harm’s way.
- Support further research into climate change and its effect on natural disaster occurrence. In addition, consider how this research could be linked to disaster risk reduction strategies.
- Develop guidelines for protecting children—both physically and psychologically—during and after disasters. Strategies for tracking displaced children, for example, could be improved, and standard protocols could be set for schools and day care centers.
- Explore more stable and resilient supply chains for medical needs, including prescriptions. Infrastructure damage—especially in areas of large populations—can mean many without access to the help they need.
- With hurricanes developing further north than in years past, transfer knowledge of lessons learned. In Florida, for example, a state with frequent hurricanes, there are more stringent building codes than other more northern coastal areas, helping mitigate damage.
- Seek out programs that aim to help with recovery and rebuilding in overlooked areas such as West Virginia, Connecticut, Haiti, Cuba, and Jamaica. With large population centers like New York and New Jersey affected, some of the smaller areas have not received the media attention and may lack some of the capacity to rebuild.
- Assess ways to assist vulnerable populations in preparedness. Many residents in New York chose to shelter in place, which was made more difficult as power outages continued to for weeks. While some of those residents were resilient for a few days, as the disaster lingered on, living conditions became extremely challenging.
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