While the extent of Hurricane Sandy's vast devastation won't be known for days, her place in history will always be accompanied with words like "unprecedented" and "once in a lifetime event."

Forget Sandy's category 1 designation. After hearing the relentless winds and driving rains pounding our homes last night and seeing all the downed trees and debris littering area roads and property this morning, we all now have a better idea of what it's like to live through a full-blown hurricane.

The recipe for this Perfect Storm was known for days, a tribute to better weather forecasting techniques. While we didn't know the exact course Sandy would take, it was close enough to let people on the eastern seaboard know well in advance that this storm meant business. Whenever a northeaster and a hurricane come together, nothing good can result from such a massive superstorm.

Leaders such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie didn't mix words in getting citizens prepared for the storm or urging them to evacuate.

"This is not a time to be a showoff. Don't be stupid. Get out and go to higher, safer ground," Gov. Christie bluntly told residents well in advance of the hurricane making landfall in his state Monday evening.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett also wisely alerted residents the state would not escape with just a glancing blow and urged everyone to stay off the roads and inside if possible.

PennDOT reminded citizens late Monday that speed and vehicle restrictions were in effect on interstates in central Pennsylvania where many roads remained blocked by downed trees, wires or floodwaters.

Motorists must continue to take very seriously the road closing signs where crews are clearing downed trees or debris or restoring electrical service. These workers have dangerous jobs to begin with and the last thing they need is to have unauthorized traffic around. Sightseeing or gawking can only compromise the safety of the emergency workers. Whenever the situation is still unstable and dangerous, such as the high winds during the peak of the storm last night, PennDOT wisely pulls its workers back for safety reasons.

In the case of a dangerous storm like Sandy, even stepping outside can pose a safety risk. On Monday, a Berks County man was taking his dogs outside when a 60-foot tree toppled onto the porch, crushing the roof and killing the man underneath.

Since some trees had not dropped their leaves, the possibility of having a limb fall was also increased with this storm. That happened Monday in Susquehanna County, north of Montrose, when an 8-year-old boy died after a tree limb fell on him.

As the wide trail of destruction is being addressed, it's important to allow emergency crews such as utility workers trying to restore power or the PennDOT, township or borough workers trying to reopen roads to do their work without interruption.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com [1]