Superstorm Sandy, six months later: An exclusive survey of its impact

Consumer Reports News: April 29, 2013 06:08 AM

Six months ago today—on October 29, 2012—Sandy slammed into the mid-Atlantic region. A new Consumer Reports survey documents the deep disruption and devastation Sandy wrought, along with highlighting the steps that helped victims cope in its aftermath.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center asked Consumer Reports online subscribers in the areas hit hardest by Sandy, including New York City, New Jersey, and Connecticut, about their problems and actions during the days following the storm's landfall.

Some 8,389 people responded, providing perhaps the most comprehensive survey of Sandy's effects on consumers. Highlights from our findings include:

  • Nearly 30% of all homeowners whose homes experienced flood damage had no flood insurance.
  • More than half (54%) of homeowners reported property damage with 44 percent experiencing minor damage and 10% experiencing major damage.
  • Flooding was most frequently cited for major damage, followed by damage to roofs, windows, and doors, possibly by wind, falling trees, debris, and so on.
  • Of those homeowners who experienced major property damage, one in five (20%) said their home was still uninhabitable in March.
  • Nearly half of all insurance claims for $40,000 or more were still pending in March, a finding that confirms what CR has noted in the past—that insurers tend to be least likely to satisfy their customers when homeowners need them the most.
  • Three-quarters of respondents lost power from their utility company for at least one day, and seven days was the median length of time for which power was out.

The loss of power plunged whole communities into darkness and caused residents a host of major inconveniences:

  • Loss of TV and Internet service (73%)
  • Loss of heat (65%)
  • Loss of home phone service (58%)
  • Lack of hot water (42%)
  • Lack of hot food (30%)
  • Lack of running water (17%)

A Consumer Reports team—including staffers who cover Home, Automotive, Electronics, and Money products and services—have assembled a special guide that details the experiences of Sandy victims and can help prepare you for storms or other disasters that might affect your area. Topics include:

  • Using a generator to restore power
  • Food safety when there's no refrigeration
  • Home repairs—working with contractors
  • Phone service—home phones and cell phones
  • Internet access
  • What to do when your TV goes dark
  • Insurance—flood, homeowners, and auto
  • Financial survival kit
  • Safe driving during and after a major storm

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