So it was a sneaky, brutal nor'easter and not those hyper-forecasted snow storms that really took winter's toll on Long Island. The lessons from this weekend's storm can make us better prepared for summer's hurricane season.

The high winds and soaked ground caused many older, dead trees and limbs to topple, taking electric lines with them. Burying the lines isn't affordable, so we need to deal with the trees - property owners, local governments and the Long Island Power Authority all have the responsibility to remove problem ones.

LIPA must evaluate whether it responded quickly enough to the deteriorating conditions. Balancing preparedness with spending heavily to pay workers overtime to be on standby is always difficult. Still, LIPA could have been a little faster off the mark, especially in getting extra crews.

Apart from the loss of electricity, communications took the biggest hit this weekend. Intense cell-phone use overwhelmed Nassau's 911 system, so even the new emergency call center scheduled to be in place this summer might not be adequate. The county should accelerate development of a secondary response center that can take storm-related tree and flooding reports, leaving 911 for more critical calls. Hundreds of thousands tried to communicate their distress this weekend, but the power of all that information was wasted. Emergency management teams should find a way to map the locations of those calls to detail the problem spots in real time.

Nature will always surprise, but Long Island can always be better prepared. hN