More than three decades before Superstorm Sandy, a state law and a series of legislative reports began warning New York politicians to prepare for a storm of historic proportions, spelling out scenarios eerily similar to what actually happened: a towering storm surge; overwhelming flooding; swamped subway lines; widespread power outages. The Rockaway peninsula was deemed among the "most at risk."
But most of the warnings and a requirement in a 1978 law to create a regularly updated plan for the restoration of "vital services" after a storm went mostly unheeded, either because of tight budgets or the lack of political will to prepare for a hypothetical storm that may never hit.
Some of the thorniest problems after Sandy, including a gasoline shortage, the lack of temporary housing and the flooding of commuter tunnels, ended up being dealt with largely on the fly.
"I don't know that anyone believed," acknowledged Gov. Andrew Cuomo this past week. "We had never seen a storm like this. So it is very hard to anticipate something that you have never experienced."
Asked how well prepared state officials were for Sandy, Cuomo said, "not well enough."