The worst of Hurricane Sandy may be past, but with at least 47 dead and estimated billions of dollars in property destroyed, residents New Jersey, New York and Connecticut have only begun to pick up the pieces.
There were stories of men ferrying neighbors through the flooded streets on personal jet skis, basements filling with seven feet of water and waves on Lake Michigan reaching twenty feet.
Subways are down, thousands of people are without power, gas leaks are causing fires where the flood waters haven’t taken over, and Longport, N.J., Mayor Nick Russo is calling it “the storm of our lifetime.”
First responders and organizations like the Red Cross or the Indiana Department of Homeland Security have already moved in to help residents begin putting their lives back together, but once the streets are clean, homes rebuilt and power restored, these volunteers will move.
All this time, the SCV Disaster Coalition will have been waiting in the wings. President Carl Goldman described the coalition as a “second responder.” After first responders and relief organizations have done the initial work, SCVDC moves in to fill in the gaps and help in areas that were overlooked.
In 2006, several months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, SCVDC organized the Flood of Books donation drive, hoping to restock the libraries of elementary and junior high schools in Houma, Louisiana, which had been hit hard by Rita.
They set an original goal of 20,000 books, but ended up with 97,000. Through the generosity of Camelot Moving and Storage and Borders Booksellers SCVDC was able to transport the books and present educators with credit to purchase more books.
The Coalition hopes to organize a similar effort for Sandy victims, but Goldman said that as of yet it is too soon to tell what the needs might be.
Here in Southern California, we are not affected by Hurricane Sandy, but the storm serves primarily as a reminder that disaster can strike at any time. Having a detailed safety plan and adequate supplies can help prevent a natural disaster from becoming a tragedy.
Donna Nuzzi of the City of Santa Clarita’s Emergency Management Department offers the following tips:
- Have a family plan that includes meeting places in the event you are separated.
- Know how you will get in touch with each other.
- Have a Plan A and Plan B, including a plan for both day and night.
- Prepare an emergency kit that includes flashlights, batteries, water and general first aid supplies.
- Don’t assume that you will be able to use your car radio or smart phone in the event of a disaster. Plan a way to charge your phone so that you can stay in contact with your family.
- Update your out-of-state emergency contact list.
For additional links and tips on staying safe during an emergency, visit the City’s website, here .
To stay updated on the SCV Disaster Coalition’s efforts and to read more about their Flood of Books campaign, click here .
If you are interested in donating blood or funds to victims of Hurricane Sandy, contact the Red Cross here .
Staff of MSNBC.com contributed to this report.