Lessons From Hurricane Sandy

Guest Post From Robert Lindefjeld:

I learned a few things from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 that I will never forget.


First, I live in Pittsburgh but my parents live on the shore in NJ. Their house was fine from the storm, but the electricity went out for WEEKS (it was late October but power wasn’t restored until third week of NOVEMBER). I figured that I would buy a generator in Pittsburgh (FAR from the ocean) but EVERY SINGLE HOME DEPOT AND LOWES EAST OF INDIANA WAS SOLD OUT! My elderly parents had no lights, no TV, and more important NO HEAT!

I ended up borrowing a generator from a friend and headed east to help my parents with the generator and about 50 gallons of gas in 5-gallon cans (very illegal, I’m sure).

Moral here, buy a generator. And have plenty of fuel on hand BEFORE the storm hits.

Second, when I got to my parents house, I hooked up the generator to a light bulb, the TV, and yes, THE FURNACE (had to re-wire the furnace — supplied by natural gas — by opening up the switch box and connecting wires from the generator and it kept the house warm). Even though not a tree fell on my parents’ home, they would have had to evacuate to a shelter if we hadn’t hooked up the furnace to the generator. Worked like a charm!

Moral here, don’t forget your brain when disaster strikes. Just because your house doesn’t have power, you can still make the furnace work if you have a generator.

Third, thieves come out of the woodwork during a disaster. I had to chain lock the generator outside to a pole and had to hide the gas cans in the garbage cans (gas thieves were everywhere because the gas stations had no power to operate the pumps), but thieves don’t look in garbage cans for gasoline.

Moral here, cherish your Second Amendment rights. The National Guard was everywhere to chase looters, but they were nowhere NEAR my parents home. And don’t count on 911 to help you out. You are on your own at that point.

Finally, once you get your kinship squared away, start helping your neighbors. My father and I spent all weekend after the storm showing people how to hook up their furnaces to generators and helped quite a few avoid evacuating to the local high-school gym.

I will say that my parents ended up buying a generac whole-house generator after Hurricane Sandy. It kicks in automatically whenever there is a power loss. While nothing as extreme has happened since Sandy, there have been intermittent power losses (eg, when a tranformer blew).

Also, let me say that living in Pittsburgh, I never really worried about Hurricane preparedness because I live deep inland. After Hurricane Sandy, I decided to buy a generator of my own, because I have loved ones that may need me to help them out as happened in 2012, and all of the home improvement stores east of Indiana were sold out (I had costumer service at both Home Depot and Lowe’s check for me in their computer system at the time).

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