Cleanup from SuperStorm Sandy is still taking place, but here are a few lessons that have already been learned by those who experienced the storm.

Personal safety is always number one, no matter what.  Many of those who ignored evacuation warnings were sorry they did.  Many drowned —most were over 65 years old. One died of hypothermia after he was found in his house, unclothed, and nearly lifeless. He had a heart condition and had turned down a rescue offer from his fire department who earlier visited his house by boat. Families were shocked when tsunami-like waves came down their streets a mile or more from the water. This New York Times article lists the names and causes of deaths.

Don’t count on the government or anyone else to protect you. Get yourself, your family, and your workplace prepared.  Click here for tips from the American Red Cross (as long as you're on the site click on Donate Funds and help them cover the huge – and continuing- costs of Sandy.) You can get emergency food supplies, water purification and storage equipment, emergency lighting and weather radios at Essential Packs, eFoodsDirect,  and CheaperThanDirt!  Don’t wait, get started now.

When the power goes out (in some cases for weeks) you need a generator, gasoline, and gas cans. People learned the hard way that gas stations must have power to get gas through their pumps to cars and cans.  Portable generators hold 5 – 10 gallons of gasoline, which you transport and store in cans. For days before Sandy, and weeks after, even where gas was available, cans weren’t.  Storing gasoline can be dangerous, but if you can store it safely, make sure your generator tank is full, and store 20 – 30 gallons of gasoline in approved containers. Use a fuel stabilizer like Sta-bil to keep gasoline fresh for up to a year. If you haven't used it in a year, pour it into your car and refill your cans.

Natural gas lines were turned off by the utility companies.  When the power went off, people expected that their gas stoves and water heaters would continue to work.  However, utility companies turned off the gas in flooded areas to prevent fires.

Depression sets in when things are dark, cold, and scary— and there is no shame in getting help.  Those who lost family members and friends, or their homes and personal property, are the obvious candidates for mental health care. But there are a lot of others who may think they are OK when they really need to talk with someone. The first days of a power outage seem fun, like camping out. However, after a couple of days of no heat, no hot coffee, no hot showers, empty grocery store shelves, no gasoline, no Internet, no TV, sitting in the dark after 5pm, compounded by stress and fear, depression can easily set in.  Even those who are strong and always have control of their lives can become depressed when their most basic comforts – food and heat—are taken away. Read this sobering article from someone who knows.

It took years for our armed services to change Post Traumatic Stress from a disorder to a diagnosis. Communities in disaster areas have counseling services available. Go if you are having problems, and convince friends who are having problems that there is nothing wrong with asking for help.