NYC should put Sandy lessons into practice

We’re all in a cone of uncertainty.

It’s a disquieting feeling, not knowing as much as we want to know about Hurricane Joaquin. We demand instant information and analysis in all facets of our lives. And we can be thankful we have much more foreknowledge about major storms than we once did. But it’s still too early to know where Joaquin will land, what wind speeds and rain totals it will bring or whether it even will remain a hurricane. But it does seem likely some part of it will be here in the days ahead, wreaking some kind of havoc.

New York City has been battered before, and recently enough that we wince at the memories. Superstorm Sandy stole some of our bravado. That’s not a bad thing. We still know that we’re resilient, but we’re also on edge because we know just how big the challenges can be.

The flood of warnings from elected officials and forecasters might become annoying, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen. The lines for water, basic foodstuffs, batteries and gasoline might become exasperating, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare. And remember your elderly and disabled neighbors, and those who are vulnerable in other ways. Lend a hand to those who need it. And be smart with your own safety.

NYC learned a lot from Sandy. We learned where to store the trains, and where not to. Sandbags are being filled to help protect the subways, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has covers for each of the 540 ventilation shafts, stairways, manholes and other openings to the subway system in lower Manhattan. Much infrastructure in that area has been moved from basements to above flood levels. A new seawall in Broad Channel provides some protection for the A train that was battered by Sandy.

If we’re unlucky, and we sustain a direct hit from an undiminished Joaquin, the storm will be a test of all the good things we’ve done since Sandy. And it will expose the things we haven’t done — the infrastructure not yet fortified, the buffers not yet built, the homes not yet raised.

That’s one fact we all hope not to learn from Joaquin.