Hurricane Sandy and the greater New York health care system

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Hurricane Sandy hit the New York tristate area in force on the night of Monday, October 29, 2012 (Fig. 1). The storm is widely considered by experts to be the most powerful in the Northeast in recorded history. An unusual combination of weather phenomena (warm Caribbean air, a high pressure system over Greenland, and a disturbance in the jet stream) combined with a full moon, caused a storm surge (“spring tide”) of more than 14 feet. Because many of New York City’s (NYC) medical centers and teaching hospitals are located near the water, this created a public health emergency. There were 64 deaths in New York State.1 All mass transit—including subway, rail, and bus—was shut down. Widespread power outages affected approximately 8.5 million people,2 and 90-mph winds downed more than 10,000 trees.3 The storm damaged or destroyed tens of thousands of residences and businesses, while creating widespread disruptions in the delivery of virtually all kinds of health services.
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