In late October of 2012, Hurricane Sandy, a category 3 storm at its peak over Cuba, would become a category 2 storm off the Northeastern coast of the United Sates, making it the largest Atlantic hurricane on record with winds spanning 1,100 miles. After causing widespread destruction and deaths in 5 other countries, Sandy impacted 24 states, including the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine, and reached west across the Appalachian Mountains to Michigan and Wisconsin with particularly severe damage in New Jersey and New York. Sandy made landfall as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane force winds. The storm surge hit New York City on October 29th, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city.
Before Hurricane Sandy struck, AFR leadership had already been discussing the logistics of forming a Heritage Response Team for several months. In preparation for Hurricane Sandy’s arrival in NYC, then AFR chair Fifield switched gears to participate in OEM conference calls and distribute TRANSCOM reports, as well as other information, to AFR members. In the days immediately following the storm’s landfall, AFR leadership served as a partner to OEM by conducting a damage and needs assessment among NYC and NJ institutions. This information assisted OEM and FEMA plan their response to the area.