Rhode Island should count itself lucky that the worst effects of Hurricane Sandy passed us by. Certainly, the damage to coastal communities, especially those in South County, was significant. But, no lives were lost in the Ocean State, and aside from lingering power outages, life has generally returned to normal.
It is important to note that the relative lack of devastation in the region is not just the result of good fortune. It seems that the public and private sectors have learned from the last two years of natural disasters, and this time around were better prepared to handle the challenges posed by this particular “superstorm.”
The March 2010 floods taught businesses that riding out disasters is as much about aggressive prevention and business-interruption strategies as about working hard after the fact to clean up. And government recognized that communicating with businesses and individuals early and often yields not just resources applied where they are needed but keeps frayed nerves under control.
The power outages caused last year by Tropical Storm Irene led to significant proactive work by National Grid, from trimming trees to upgrading power lines to improving its own communications infrastructure.
So far at least, Sandy’s relatively light effects on Rhode Island support the notion that good disaster planning is an important part of any operational strategy. •