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Are you prepared for a Hurricane Sandy?

Hurricane Sandy has left a path of destruction in its wake in the USA, but has served up some valuable lessons to us all.

Lesson 1:  People seem to ignore deadly peril

Although the New Jersey governor warned of the dangers of the storm from the very beginning, people refused to get out. As many people from New Jersey felt foolish for over-reacting to Storm Irene of 2011, they assumed Hurricane Sandy would also blow over without any major damage or deaths. Even people of authority denied the impending danger, with the mayor of Atlantic City refusing to order a mandatory evacuation, despite being in the line of Hurricane Sandy’s predicted path of destruction.

Lesson 2:  What you know and what you think you know can be two different things

There was plenty of warning that the storm was going to hit the USA.  People had ample time to prepare and yet, were they prepared when the storm hit?  Some had their children on sea walls with massive waves crashing around them, taking photos; others went shopping or sight-seeing during the storm – you’ve got to wonder. How quickly the lifestyle we take for granted can be taken away.  It can vanish in an instant.  Some of these people had to live without food, sewerage, power, water or transport for days or weeks. Hurricane Sandy was a keen reminder of how inadequate our plans can be when they are put to the test.

Lesson 3:  There is no such thing as being too prepared

Best to prepare in advance, not a day or two before the storm when there’s no supplies left – all the bottled water, batteries, dry goods and medical supplies have been cleaned out. There’s an old Arab proverb that goes – Trust in God; but tie up your camel. Basically it means to expect the best, but plan for the worst! This translates to any type of preparedness – when was the last time anybody ever complained about being over-insured?  Surely not when a claim cheque arrives!

Lesson 4:  When times are tough, communities come together

Closer to home, the 2004 floods and the Christchurch earthquake are great examples of this.  It’s hard to overstate just how good it feels to know that when things are tough, your family, friends and strangers will be there to help. Even if the material aid is scarce, the psychological aid displayed by others can be immense. An enduring image for us all is the student army, that took to the streets of Christchurch to help begin the clean up.  Without that kind of backup, disasters have a way of making people feel isolated and overwhelmed.  It’s comforting to see the generosity people show at times of adversity.

Planning for a disaster is different than expecting a disaster.  Having an earthquake supply kit and an evacuation plan for your family makes good sense. Reviewing your insurance portfolio before disaster strikes makes good sense too. Sorting your insurance portfolio isn’t what springs to mind when thinking of fun things to do.  However if you sort it now, you then get to relax completely, and do the fun things you want to do, knowing that your disaster plan is in place.  That’s got to be good for your stress levels too!