LIFE: What I learned from Sandy.

sandy boat street trash truck sanitation hurricane

It has been over a year now since Hurricane|SuperStorm Sandy, a fine time to post my notes from a day trip to Staten Island. Hopefully this paints a picture of conditions on the ground after a flood.

The Scene


Staten Island, New York. November 2012, 2 weeks after the storm.

Even/odd plate gas rationing. Many residents are still without power. Nails/glass/debris litter the streets. Some of the hardest hit residents are in a state of shock. A significant percentage of traffic signals are not functioning.

Residents are frantically gutting their structures with crude tools and lots of volunteered help. Some homes remain untouched, rapidly infiltrated by mold.

Utility workers roam from home to home in preparations for restoring power.
Religious groups hand out plates of chicken and vegetables.

Pleasure boats are parallel parked on residential streets. Docks have floated across the harbor pushed houses from their foundations.

The Work


Consider the following post-flood tasks:

– Gutting houses up to the water line.

– Loading trash trucks

– Keeping the street clean

– Disconnecting appliances.

– Moving mountains of trash bags

– Draining basements.

What to bring


2 is one, one is none.

Things get broken, stolen, lost. Volunteers and residents will need supplies.

socks *
flashlights *
wire cutters
dust/respirator masks *
plumbers wrenches
duct tape
sledge hammers, pry bars, etc *
utility knives *
contractor bags *
heavy extension cords, power strips
trash cans
heavy duty push brooms
garden hoses
shovels, push brooms *
hand sanitizer, wet wipes, paper towels *
Spare shoes *
2 cycle oil
cash *
paper plates, cups
dc invertor (high wattage, cars are generators)
rain boots / waders
tyvek coveralls *
battery jumper pack
spare vehicle keys *
tire repair kit

What not to bring:

Valuables. Large cameras, fancy electronics, expensive sunglasses.

Lessons learned


Digging in at home can be a useful strategy, but don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. When bugging-in during an event such as this you need to have your bags packed just in case things get bad. In an area like Staten Island, evacuation may not be possible for a long time to come, make your choices wisely!

Live in a flood prone area? Prepare NOW. Obtain a generator, sump pump and fuel cans. After this event every store within several hundred miles was out of fuel cans for months.


Soggy fiberglass insulation is heavy! The water runs down your sleeves as you rip it down.

Wet drywall paste is slippery.

Traveling over highways and bridges with fuel or other hazardous materials could draw the attention of toll operators. Secure and cover your supplies.

There is gasoline/sewage/saline soaked mud everywhere.

Toxic particles float in the air even when it seems that the dust has cleared.


Attach your keys to your person!

Consider wearing a life vest if evacuating in a flood.

Wear your dust mask all of the time!

Date your fuel and consider using fuel stablizer
Know how to turn your utilities on and off.

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