Major hurricanes in the Atlantic – both in 2014 and last year – have been hard to come by, but few will ever forget Superstorm Sandy, the mammoth ball of moisture that worked its way up the Eastern coastline, affecting 15 states in some material way. As hard as it may be to believe, the hurricane's two-year anniversary is just days away.
Two days before Halloween 2012, Sandy reached the U.S. shoreline just off the coast of New Jersey, according to meteorological estimates. Though at first it hit as a post-tropical storm, at its height, it strengthened into a Category 2 storm, producing sustained winds of between 96 and 110 miles per hour.
Though far from being the strongest hurricane the U.S. has seen, what it lacked in potency it made up for in its breadth. Doppler radar images at the time showed how the storm virtually covered all of the Atlantic seaboard. Combined with it being slow-moving, the damages that resulted were substantial.
Sandy cost nearly $19 billion in insured property losses
According to ISO's Property Claim Services, New Jersey bore the biggest brunt of the storm's financial toll. More than 1.1 million insurance claims were filed in the aftermath of Sandy, the Insurance Information Institute reported. Total claim costs totaled $7.1 billion for personal coverage, including homeowners insurance and auto insurance. For overall insured property losses, the grand total was more than $18.7 billion, not including the $7.2 billion that was paid out in flood insurance claims. Approximately 127,900 claims were submitted to the National Flood Insurance Program, which is owned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The extent of flooding may be the lasting image home and business owners have when they think about Sandy. In New Jersey alone, 70 percent of the state's submerged marshes flooded, researchers noted at an annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. Under normal circumstances, submerged marshes are a natural way in which nature provides a protection to the coastline from strong waves.
With floods being the No. 1 natural disaster in the United States, it's something that families need to take seriously if they want to protect their property from incurring serious damage. Though floods can't be prevented entirely, there are various preparations individuals can perform in order to mitigate losses that result.
FEMA has a helpful guide that points out what to do if flooding is anticipated.
Because flooding is a ground concern, anything in low lying areas can be affected, making cellars and basements particularly vulnerable. Property experts recommend moving all items and possessions that are can be transported to higher ground, such as electronics and furniture. Additionally, if a home's furnace is in the basement, these should be elevated, as well as water heaters if possible.
Some preparations may require more planning, but the time put into it can pay off. FEMA said that if feasible, homeowners should see if they or a professional can build a barrier surrounding the base of a residence that can prevent flood water from entering. Waterproofing compounds to fill holes and seal walls may also prove effective.