PUBLISHED 6:00 AM EDT | Sep 19, 2017

The (Very) Long Tail Of Hurricane Recovery

On Sept. 8, someone in New York City dialed 311, the city’s non-emergency hotline, and asked for information about a Hurricane Sandy disaster relief program. This was not a fluke. It’s been nearly five years since the storm devastated the mid-Atlantic, causing 43 deaths in the city and $19 billion in damage. But still, nearly 1,800 days later, the calls continue — there have already been 142 this year. 1

Sandy-related calls to 311

Colors represent the government agencies that were responsible for the information callers were requesting, such as City Hall. (Hover for more details)

As hurricanes Harvey and Irma left Texas and Florida, they too left devastation behind. Dozens are dead, and untold billions of dollars lost. The roads to recovery will be steep — and they will be very long.

Hurricane recovery lingers beyond the first few months of hard work. Power is restored, homes are rebuilt and kids head back to school. But “normal” — life as it was before the storm — may never fully be reached. From New York City’s Open Data website, we downloaded the logs of over 36 million calls placed to 311 from the days ahead of Sandy’s arrival, in the fall of 2012, through today. Nearly 80,000 were directly related to the storm, and they tell the story of tragedy and recovery in one city. It’s a story that continues to unfold in New York, and one that is only beginning in Texas and Florida.2

Sandy hit New York on the evening of Oct. 29, and on that date, the city received 8,054 calls explicitly related to the storm. Over the next eight weeks, it received tens of thousands more.

The calls kept coming ...

We’ve zoomed in from the scale above to help you see what they were about.

left-pointing arrowFewer 311 calls are made on weekends.