Lessons From Hurricane Sandy - DIY Preparedness

In October of 2012, a destructive and deadly hurricane named Sandy swept across the eastern United States taking the lives of over 230 people and inflicting 68 billion dollars of damage. The most severe damage was caused in New Jersey as well as New York.

Hurricane Sandy Homes Destroyed
Over 50 homes were reportedly destroyed in a fire during the storm. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Below is a list made by Frank Ostmann about the things he personally learned from surviving Hurricane Sandy. There are 46 lessons here that would be super helpful to take note of in our preparations.

Experience is the mother of wisdom.

Things I learned from Hurricane Sandy:

1. The excitement and coolness wears off around day 3.
2. You are never really prepared to go weeks without power, heat, water, etc. Never!
3. Yes it can happen to you.
4. Just because your generator runs like a top, does not mean its producing electricity.
5. If you do not have water stored up you are in trouble. A couple of cases of bottled water is NOT water storage
6. Should have as much fuel as water.

  • propane
  • gas c. kerosene
  • firewood
  • fire starter (kindling, paper, etc.)
  1. Even the smallest little thing that you get from the store should be stocked up on:
    • Spark plug for generator
    • BBQ lighter, etc.

8. If you are not working, chances are nobody else is either.
9. I was surprised how quickly normal social behavior goes out the window. I am not talking about someone cutting in line at the grocery store.

  • 3 people were killed at gas stations within 50 miles of my home.
  • I did not say 3 fights broke out, 3 people were killed.

10. Cash is king (all the money in your savings means nothing).
11. Stored water can taste nasty.
12. You eat a lot more food when you are cold.
13. You need more food than you think if your kids are out of school for 2 weeks.

Hurricane Sandy Clean Up14. Kids do not like washing their faces in cold water.
15. Your 1972 Honda Civic gets to the grocery store as well as a 2012 Escalade…but the Honda allows money left over for heat, food, water, a generator, firewood, a backup water pump…you get the idea.
16. The electrical grid is way more fragile than I thought.
17. Think of the things that are your comfort, your escape; a cup of hot chocolate, a glass of milk and a Ding Dong before going to bed, etc. Stock up on those, too. You will need that comfort after day 3.
18. You quickly become the guy in the neighborhood who knows how to wire a generator to the electrical panel, directly wire the furnace to a small generator, or get the well pump up and running on inverter power OR you are the guy whose Master’s degree in Accounting suddenly means nothing. (Love you, Steve!)

Hurricane Sandy Destruction19. A woman who can cook a fine meal by candle light over the BBQ or open fire is worth her weight in gold. And women, whose weight in gold, would not add up to much, usually die off first. Sorry skinny women.
20. It takes a lot of firewood to keep a fire going all day and into the evening for heat.
21. All the food storage in the world means nothing if your kids won’t eat it, or you can’t cook it.
22. You might be prepared to take care of your children and their needs, but what about when the neighborhood children start to show up at your door?
23. Some people shut down in an emergency. There is nothing that you can do about that.
24. Your town, no matter how small, is entirely dependent on outside sources of everything.
a. If supply trucks stop rolling in due to road damage, gas shortages or anything else, you could be without for a long time.
25. In an emergency Men stock up on food, Women stock up on toilet paper.
26. I was surprised how many things run on electricity.
27. You can never have enough matches.
28. Although neighbors can be a great resource, they can also be a huge drain on your emergency storage. You need to know how you are going to handle that. It is really easy to be “Bob the Guy Who Shares” on Day 3, not so easy on Day 11. Just reality.
29. Give a man a fish, he eats for that day. Teach a man to fish and he will never be hungry again.
Now I get it.
30. All of the expensive clothes in the closet mean nothing if they don’t keep you warm.
31. Same goes for shoes…Love you, Honey!!!!
32. You cannot believe the utility companies. They are run by politicians!! Or so it seems.
33. Anything that you depend on someone else for is not available anymore.
34. Quote: “A man with a chainsaw that knows how to use it is a thing of beauty.” Hahaha

Shopping after Hurricane Sandy35. Most folks don’t have any emergency storage. They run to WalMart and get water and batteries and then fill their tubs with water. That is it. A lucky few will get a case of ramen and a box of pop tarts. That will be you neighbor’s supply (especially if you live outside of Utah).
36. Fathers, all the money you have ever made means nothing if you can’t keep your kids warm.
37. Mothers, everything you have ever done for your kids is forgotten if you kids are hungry.
38. You really do not want to be the “Unprepared Parents”. The kids turn on you pretty quickly.
39. Small solar charging gadgets will keep you in touch. Most work pretty well, it seems.
40. Most things don’t take much power to operate: computers, phones, radios, TV, lights
41. Some things take a ton of power to operate: fridge, toaster, freezer, hot plate, microwave.

Dusk after Hurricane Sandy42. When it gets dark at 4:30 pm the nights are really long without power.
43. Getting out of the house is very important. Even if it is cold. Make your home the semi-warm place to come home to…not the cold prison that you are stuck in.
44. Someone in your family must play or learn to play guitar (or other musical instrument, you know, kind of like the pioneers to help the long nights pass easier).
45. Things that disappeared never to be seen again for a very long time: fuel of all kinds, matches & lighters, toilet paper, paper plates, plastic forks & knives, batteries (didn’t really see a need for them, flashlights ??? I guess), milk, charcoal, spark plugs (generators), 2 stroke motor oil (chainsaws), anything that could be used to wire a generator to the house, extension cords, medicines (Tylenol, Advil, cold medicine, etc.)
46. There was a strange peace to knowing all I had to do each day was keep my family safe, warm and fed, but my peace was someone else’s panic.

Surveying Damage after Hurricane Sandy


There were many things that were not learned in Hurricane Sandy, but reinforced. Those things were the importance of my family and their love and support (especially my lovely wife), that my Heavenly Father is really in charge-period, and finally that I am very thankful for the upbringing and experiences that have taught me and brought me to where I am….wherever that is!
This is incredible insight and we are appreciative to Frank Ostmann for sharing. Hopefully, we can take action in preparing NOW for a disaster scenario.

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