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. We can be thankful we have much more foreknowledge than we did when "the Long Island Express" leveled the region in 1938. But it's still too early for detailed forecasts of where Joaquin will land, what wind speeds and rain totals it will bring or whether it will remain a hurricane. But it seems likely some part of it will be here in the days ahead, wreaking some kind of havoc.

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Long Island has been battered before, and we've always considered ourselves hardy and hardened. But Sandy stole some of that bravado. That's not a bad thing. We 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 too much noise, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't listen. The lines at stores and service stations for water, basic foodstuffs, batteries and gasoline might become exasperating, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't prepare. And remember your elderly or disabled neighbors, or those who are vulnerable in other ways. Lend a hand to those who need it, as Long Islanders always do. And be smart with your own safety.

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 homes not yet raised, the buffers not yet built, the infrastructure not yet fortified.

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