Refresher course from Sandy

People stand next to a house collapsed Tuesday after Hurricane Sandy in East Haven, Conn.

Florida and the Carolinas are hurricane country. New York and New Jersey are not. Yet on Monday night, Hurricane Sandy brought a nearly 14-foot storm surge not over the Battery on Charleston’s peninsula, but into Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan.

Sandy also brought reminders of how powerful — and random — nature’s fury can be.

And yes, the storm reconfirmed how fortunate we South Carolinians have been on the hurricane front for the 23-plus years since Hugo made its awesome mark here.

Folks living along a large section of the Atlantic Coast, from the North Carolina-Virginia border upward, have had no such luck this week. Sandy made landfall in New Jersey Monday night, while also doing considerable damage in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York. The far-reaching storm even triggered heavy snow — not a typical hurricane by-product — in Virginia, Tennessee and West Virginia.

As of Tuesday evening, the authorities had reported at least 50 Sandy-related fatalities in the U.S., 18 of them in New York. Early projections of U.S. property damage eclipsed $20 billion.

Among the harrowing consequences of the vast storm system: More than eight million people lost power, with some outages expected to last at least a week. New Jersey’s barrier islands were swamped by the Atlantic. Seven New York City subway tunnels were flooded, and even after they drain, saltwater residue will cause severe problems in restoring service.

The unavoidable hazards imposed by Sandy were bad enough. But especially galling was the peril needlessly created by those who failed to heed official calls to remove themselves from harm’s way.

As Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told CNN on Monday: “All these people who refused to evacuate, not only did they put themselves at risk, they put many, many first responders at risk.”

So when — not if — our long lucky streak ends and a hurricane comes our way, fulfill not just your familial but your civic duty by getting out while the getting’s good.

Meanwhile, if you’re among the many people who want to help Sandy’s victims,contributions to the American Red Cross (redcross.org) offer a proven path to that worthy goal.

As for the inevitable punditry about this natural disaster’s impact (if any) on next week’s presidential election, give that a break.

When a savage storm kills people and destroys their homes and businesses, it doesn’t differentiate between Democrats, Republicans or independents.

And when Americans come to the aid of storm victims, neither should we.