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Hurricane Sandy and Critical Economic Infrastructure

Hurricane Sandy made landfall in Atlantic City at 8pm on Monday, with maximum sustained hurricane-force winds of 80 mph, and the lowest central pressure to hit the region since a 1938 storm that caused damages of $37 billion (normalized USD2005). The combination of storm surge and high tide yielded a surge of 13.7 feet at the Battery New York. Wall Street remained shut down for two days. Transportation was brought to a standstill, with road closures, flooded subways, and closed airports. More than 8 million people lost power and there have been 51 deaths in the US. President Obama declared parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to be major disaster areas, with emergency declarations in 8 other states and the District of Columbia.

Hurricane Sandy presents a teachable moment for policymakers, infrastructure operators, planners and the public. In the coming months we will have better perspective on how well we were prepared and where we need to improve in the future. Three key issues affected by severe storms impact the US economy and the health and safety of our communities: business continuity, access to transportation, and access to electricity.