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Editorial: Sandy's lessons warn us to prepare for snowstorm

The Southold Town Highway Department in Peconic preps

The Southold Town Highway Department in Peconic preps for the approaching blizzard. (Feb. 7, 2013) Credit: Randee Daddona

Brutish weather is bearing down. The memory of superstorm Sandy, the nor'easter that followed it, and the devastation many endured is still fresh. So is the lack of preparation and communication on the part of organizations we all count on, which made everything worse than it had to be.

There's no way to tell how bad this storm, with its blizzard warning for all the Island and much of the region, will be. At best, we'll get just enough snow to cheer children who've seen precious little of it lately. At worst, we'll be socked with feet of it, high winds, a tidal surge, power outages and impassable roads.

In preparation, the Long Island Power Authority has ceded control to National Grid, the for-profit company that does most of the actual work of powering LIPA's customers. Much of the criticism of LIPA before and since Sandy has been that it's unresponsive and incompetent, only impeding the work of the professionals. Many argue a private utility focused on the challenges and not the politics, could do better. Empowering National Grid to respond to this storm directly -- bringing in and coordinating whatever crews and resources are necessary -- might be a way to test this theory.

Also facing stiff challenges are state and local governments. Their ability to keep the roads as passable as possible during the storm, then to clear them afterward, is crucial. So is their ability to coordinate with National Grid and each other, to ensure public safety and speed recovery. State and local authorities are taking the situation seriously, staging equipment and supplies and putting staff in place to respond.

It will be another challenge for the Long Island Rail Road to keep tracks clear and switches thawed and working.

And, as always, the final responsibility for how we come through this storm lies with us. Let's be wise and patient, careful and calm, stay off the roads and be as safe as we can.

And maybe, if we prepare well enough, and even over-prepare, we'll weather the worst of this storm.

We can hope.