Hurricane Sandy’s Damage: Unmatched in History


Sandy aftermath devastated Lidenhurst, New York, as well as other towns and cities along the east coast. Courtesy of MCT Campus

Sandy aftermath devastated Lidenhurst, New York, as well as other towns and cities along the east coast. Courtesy of MCT Campus

Hurricanes in the Washington D.C area usually happen every few years, but with Hurricane Sandy this year and Hurricane Irene last year, hurricanes are becoming stronger.

Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast during the last week of first quarter, a time when students rush to turn in work at the last minute. The week was shortened to three days since MCPS cancelled Monday and Tuesday, expecting widespread power outages. The days off school do not count towards snow days since the Maryland government declared a state of emergency.

Pepco, Montgomery County’s main power company, has a bad reputation of restoring power after storms. After the derecho in June, more than 430,000 customers lost power. It took a week for Pepco to restore power to every customer. However, after Hurricane Sandy, only 130,000 customers lost power. This is a dramatic improvement for Pepco because it only took about two days for everyone to get their power back.

Even though Maryland got spared from most of the storm, the New Jersey coast and New York got hit the hardest. Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G), New Jersey’s main power company reported over one million power outages a day after the hurricane hit. Many neighborhoods were flooded because the storm surge from the Atlantic Ocean washed the beach’s sand dunes away.

In New York City, over two million people lost power. Several subway stations were closed because of flooding. Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered all schools and parks to be closed as a safety precaution. Staten Island, the city’s island residential area, got hit the hardest. Storm surge caused most of the island to flood, making most of its roads unusable. After unsanitary conditions were reported, volunteers from all over the city helped the island’s residents clean up the neighborhood.

Hurricane Sandy did not only bring heavy rain and winds. In the highly elevated areas of West Virginia, snow fell instead of rain. Over two feet of wet snow fell, causing over 239,000 power outages.

In total, over 100 people died from North Carolina to Massachusetts. Over eight million people lost power. According to, the estimated cost of the damage is $60 billion. In comparison to other storms, Hurricane Katrina cost $81 billion and last year’s Hurricane Irene cost $10 billion, making Hurricane Sandy one of the costliest hurricanes in history.