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Hurricane Sandy

 Executive Summary

This paper discusses Hurricane Sandy, providing detailed information on this natural disaster. It will discuss the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy and the actual incident’s history. Further, the paper will discuss the technology employed, the impacts of communication and resolution of the incident, and what worked out the possible ways that could have improved the process. This will involve the rescue operation and the different technology that was employed in filtering the information to be communicated and fastening the process. The paper discusses all the incidences involved during Hurricane Sandy.

Overview

Hurricane Sandy was the most fatal, destructive, and strongest hurricane in the 2012 Atlantic season. Still, it is considered the second-largest Atlantic in history to date. This happened towards the end of October 2012 when Hurricane Sandy swept through the Caribbean-taking 75 lives before heading north. As it approached the East Coast, it recorded the highest waves ever recorded in the history of the Western Atlantic. This, therefore, caused a scary storm that sent floods in the whole of the coastal New York and New Jersey.

Consequently, the Hurricane spread over a distance of 800 miles between the East Coast and the Great Lakes regions. This resulted in 650,000 homeless people and a further 8.5 million without power. The effects of the disaster also caused damage to property worth $70.2 billion.

Hurricane Sandy Incident and Effects.

The Hurricane Sandy incident took place on October 22, 2012. This incident developed from the tropical waves that matured into a tropical depression. The hydro-meteorological perspective states that a large and unusual spatial extent went high up to 1700km. This was followed in quick succession by a tropical cyclone that developed. After two days, this process developed into a Category 1 hurricane with winds going higher in strength above 74mph. Hurricane Sandy was first experienced in Jamaica as a Category 1 hurricane on October 24, 2012. Simultaneous destructions followed this through Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas. Five days later, the landfall was experienced over the U.S. near Atlantic City, New Jersey, with the wind force escalating to 90mph.

This incident further led to deaths. These were through drowning in the storms that grew stronger and the sweeping floods that, in addition, destroyed homes. According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Sandy caused 147 deaths. In the U.S., the number of deaths added to 72 (Kunz et al., 2013). Haiti came second as the most affected, with 54 deaths. The landfalls were experienced in the early hours of the day. The incident came with a lot of hazards, and the events afterward were adverse, and impacted greatly on the society. While Sandy was building up, there were heavy precipitations with rainfall totals above 200mm. This was the result of the flooding that swept away people and homes.

In the U.S., the Hurricane Sandy incident mainly affected the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, and Virginia. These states recorded heavy rainfalls between 100-and 200mm. During the Sandy incident, the wettest days never experienced in October were first encountered in Baltimore, US. However, the Caribbean, known as the hurricane-prone region, was severely hit, which contrasts with the U.S., where New Jersey experienced its third landfall since recording (Kunz et al., 2013). In Jamaica and Cuba, heavy floods and rock debris flow resulted in heavy precipitation. These floods, therefore, were a threat to neighboring housing.

Further, there was fluvial river flooding due to the high precipitation. The high water levels in the lower rives near the Atlantic were caused by the high tidal currents, storm surges, and the fluvial flooding due to the heavy rainfall. During Hurricane Sandy, maximum water levels were obtained after years.

 

Pre-Hurricane Sandy Preparations and Communication

Hurricane Sandy led to power outages in most of the States in the U.S. This, however, did not stop people from using social media, though there were limited cases. These effects needed adequate preparation ions. The use of social media and other traditional media to give warning information was hugely invested in. From the reports, it was observed that a lot of concerns were raised by people over Hurricane Sandy. Data reports show that between October 14, October 14, 2012, and November 12, 2012, there were 52Million tweets from 13 Million users (Peer, 2018). However, the effects of the Hurricane were so adverse that it rendered many people vulnerable. These were followed by disaster response teams taking the initiative to educate society and assist. This called for effective communications, and therefore social media proved useful.

Communication during Hurricane Sandy needed to address the systemic planning. During this crisis, information on whether forecast would be vital for equipping people on the urgency of the matter. This further is a way to disseminate the required information to the public, therefore, hasting the planning before the crisis (Schmeltz et al., 2013). Timely communication is not limited to the traditional such as radio and television but also involves the social media platforms that have attracted heavy traffic in the present age (Peer, 2018). Acknowledging the value of social media in a crisis influences human interactions, which can further the spreading of the most essential information on the crisis (Peer, 2018). From these, predictions could be drawn on the next phase of the crisis as people got themselves prepared (Schmeltz et al., 2013). Therefore, information on systemic planning was needed over the media to educate the society and inform them of safety measures during the crises.

Apart from systemic planning, the social media role proved powerful since it was used as a tool for crisis communication. However, the floods and strong winds caused commotion across the country and therefore barring people from the convenience of accessing these communications from social media. In addition to crisis information being given to the public, proper education on handling crises should also be done to equip people with the skills needed managing crises.

Another factor that needs to be considered in emergency planning is avoiding overreliance on one device. During Hurricane Sandy, it was reported that some universities sent messages on different platforms. These were 17% of the messages by phone, 37% by text, and 46% by email (Savitz, 2013). This is one way of increasing the chances of assessing the paths in handling the crisis by the Emergency Operations. Further, the intense storms could take down communication lines and therefore shut down communications for single device users (Savitz, 2013). During a crisis, communication is necessary during preparations, and every effort should be pout inn ensure that all networks are functioning to enable easy management of the crisis.

Conducting regular system and staff testing and the procedures taken during a crisis is also part of the preparations before crises. This enhances effectiveness and accuracy. Training staff on operating and managing critical communication systems from all forces improves performance. Therefore, these early preparations before a crisis would boost effectiveness in handling the crisis. In addition to testing the systems, skills should be employed in messaging people. This involves making the messages shorter and more informative.

Communications Strategy Used

The headquarters of the Emergency Operations Center is in Silver Spring, Maryland. However, on October 27 October 27, 2012, there was the activation of the National Response Coordination Center in Washington D.C. to prepare for Hurricane Sandy’s landfall (FEMA, 2012). The center became the central command responsible for executing principle emergency preparedness and managing events after the Hurricane Sandy disaster. The emergency strategy aims to ensure the country’s operation continues despite the setback. The EOC was responsible for the operational decision and strategic directions. It did not directly engage in controlling assets on the field but left the tactical decisions to lower-level commands. It collected, gathered, and analyzed data from the ground. The decision was made intended to protect and further injuries. FDA experts monitored, assessed, and responded to Hurricane Sandy’s impacts. The commissioners needed to observe applicable laws and disseminate the same information to the concerned individuals and agencies.

The EOC evaluated and anticipated the worst-case scenario. The EOC engaged representatives from the private and public sectors to offer relevant information. There were conference calls with various agencies inside the country and outside. It made sure that the staff in the field and in the office got timely meals, sleeping arrangements, and other essential logistic considerations. Each staff member needed to remain focused and have passion throughout the disaster management process (FEMA, 2013). They needed to get things done with the highest level of efficiency despite the difficulties.EOC worked closely with the state’s emergency operations and healthcare evacuation efforts to effectively coordinate services. For instance, New York City, in an estimate, indicates that the steps taken to respond to Hurricane Sandy engaged extensive efforts and HURRICANE SANDY 6 resources ever documented. The mayor and the national officials needed to communicate effectively to ensure smooth implementation of the evacuation plans at both levels of government.

Technology Employed

The use of a web emergency operations center was also part of the technology employed. After Hurricane Sandy made landfall, FEMA hired a Web-based Emergency Operations Center (WebEOC) to coordinate and support response operations at the NRCC (FEMA, 2013). The WebEOC was used by FEMA and its Federal partners for various tasks- including supporting resource allocation requests from the field, coordinating Energy Restoration Task Force activities, maintaining situational awareness, monitoring and tracking national hurricane plan tasks, and tracking assistance provided to Hurricane Sandy survivors (FEMA, 2013). The WebEOC was critical in delivering a unified Federal response to Hurricane Sandy. It facilitated a common operating picture on the status of all orders through a live resource tracking board that consolidated information on all resources shipped to support Hurricane Sandy response efforts (FEMA, 2013).

Impacts of communication on Resolving Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy led to the destruction of businesses and the disruption of activities for a long time. The National Business Emergency Center (NBEOC) stopped in to respond to the disaster. NBEOC, as a virtual clearinghouse for two-way information, was critical in sharing information with stakeholders from the private and public sectors. During the crisis, FEMA and the private sector worked together to protect the lives of citizens and during rebuilding in the community (FEMA, 2013). NBEOC’s goal is to engage the representatives from the private sector in the national response center.

Additionally, FEMA linked the Regional Response Coordination Center with the federal and state partners’ broader emergency management network operations. The best practice is timely information to the business community to make informed decisions. The partnership allows the posting of maps that can assist in benefiting survivors. The process used the four business partners from across the nation to help affected communities.

The participation of the NBEOC was voluntary and opened to willing private sector members. They included chambers of commerce, think tanks, universities, non-profit organizations, trade associations, and small and large enterprises (FEMA, 2013). FEMA Region VII continues to support building and maintaining good partnership with individuals and business organizations of all sizes and shapes. It will play an integral role in ensuring an improved disaster resiliency in America.

 

Conclusion

The response to Hurricane Sandy involved the coordination of large-scale mobilization of supplies. FEMA was responsible for organizing and coordinating national teams and volunteers’ efforts pre-disaster and after the storm’s landfall. The federal government, through FEMA, ensured that the necessary support was available for response and recovery operations. The state agenesis and departments had the instructions to expedite assistance with speed. FEMA implemented the disaster declaration in the affected states. Working with the National Business Emergency Center and other teams helped restore fuel and power supply. It also helped in accelerating rental support to eligible survivors. The Incident Command System helped better and more effective emergency teams, thus refining the mission assignment. Therefore, FEMA, Federal Partners, and volunteers succeeded in delivering the necessary support compared to other natural disasters in the past.

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