The new normal?

Hurricane Sandy is gone, but its aftermath remains. With at least 110 people confirmed dead and many regions in the northeastern United States still struggling to recover, myriad questions remain:

Could we have been better prepared? How high will the recovery price tag skyrocket? Is this the new normal?

A few days ago, even as it satirized the disaster, The Onion managed to succinctly answer that last question.

In “Nation Suddenly Realizes This Just Going To Be A Thing That Happens From Now On,” a fictional citizen realized these so-called superstorms can no longer be considered freaks of nature.

“‘Oh, I see—this is just going to be how it is from here on out,’ said New York City resident Brian Marcello. … ‘Hugely destructive weather events are going to keep happening, and they are going to get worse … and living through them is something that will be a part of all our lives from now on. … I get it now.'”

Ha-ha. Of course, this isn’t really parody, it’s reality.

Homes and businesses destroyed. Massive power outages. Gas shortages. Costly, heartbreaking devastation.

And it could easily happen in Sacramento, thanks, in part, to the city’s aging levees. Indeed, it no longer seems to be a matter of “what if” but rather “when.”

Climate change and, correspondingly, disaster preparation didn’t really become topics of political discussion until the final days of the presidential campaign. Now’s the time to not just talk about it but to finally take real, preventative action and, also, learn how to mitigate the effects of the damage that’s already been done.

This is the new normal.