Sandy reminder to be prepared

The supercharged storm Sandy that blasted ashore Monday night is a reminder that regardless of where you are, it’s important to be prepared to major disaster.

While there was massive property damage — we saw estimates of $20 billion and business losses of up to $30 billion — those are things that can be recovered. The most tragic aspect of this massive storm that left 8.2 million Americans without electricity was the loss of life. At this writing, the death toll was at 38 people. The death of a loved one is a loss that can never be recovered, and our thoughts and prayers go to those who are suffering.

That the storm was a powerful one is an understatement. Sandy, packing 80 mph winds, closed down New York City, flooding the subways, and ripped through New Jersey. It dumped a foot to two feet of snow on West Virginia. A record 14-foot-high ocean surge slammed into Manhattan and the south part of Lake Michigan saw record-tying 20-foot waves. High winds from its edge uprooted trees in Cleveland.

As humans, we like to believe that we have some measure of control over our lives. Events like Sandy reaffirm that nature is a force that can’t always be reckoned with.

We were fortunate in this incident. Our region was windy, but the storm system was expected to still be drenching Northeast areas with rain today. Emergency response units from Georgia, including the Red Cross and National Guard, headed northward to affected areas, which reached down into the Carolinas.

Still, the fact that Sandy missed us this time is no reason to drop our guard. Since 1994, Albany has been cut in half twice by powerful storms that created flooding that made the Flint River impassable and drove hundreds of people from their homes.

There are things that can be done to prepare for a disaster that, while we hope it doesn’t strike, is always a possibility. For instance, it’s always advisable to have enough food and water to sustain your family for a minimum of three days without power. Lighting and communications equipment, such as a radio, that don’t have to be plugged into a power outlet are also needed. And you should always have an idea of where you would go if you were forced to evacuate your home.

In fact, we recommend that all who can drop in at the Albany and Dougherty County Flood and Severe Weather Preparedness Fair set for 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at the Thronateeska Science Museum, 100 W. Roosevelt Ave., to pick up some ideas on how to be ready for a disaster.

Preparation never hurts and, in many cases, it can be a lifesaver.