Awful what wind and waves can do when you harness their destructive power and they tear entire communities down to the ground.

Such was the path of Hurricane Sandy, which slammed into the East Coast with a ferocity unseen since the 1938 Long Island hurricane.

We had grown blasé of course -- too many warnings, Hurricane Irene last year just the latest, which failed to deliver the fatal blow we had all been warned about.

But Sandy was the case that proved the rule and lived up to the hype.

By the time she had blown through there were thousands homeless, millions without power, and broken lives everywhere.

Her path of death and destruction left countless victims, none more so than the hapless two Irish kids, Connor and Brandon Moore, whose Donegal-born dad was helping the city fight the hurricane.

Their poor mother found herself in the teeth of the storm and tragically lost her two little boys.

There were many such tragic stories, but if it were not for the strong evacuation orders it could have been far worse.

Kudos to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, both of whom showed their mettle in warning about the storm, taking the tough decisions and acting on them.

Kudos too to President Obama, who fired up the federal response as quickly as he could -- but whether the agencies concerned were working fast enough remained an open question.

The grade for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is decidedly more mixed. He responded extremely well in the early stages, but his insistence on running the New  York City Marathon was pigheaded to say the least in a city that was coping with such a massive disaster.

Fortunately he saw the light very late in the day and agreed to hold off.

For the Irish community the storm was especially tragic. Breezy Point is one of the most Irish enclaves in America, with 60 percent of the population there claiming Irish heritage. Breezy was blitzed and nearly destroyed.

Many of the heroic firefighters and first responders of 9/11 live on the Breezy Point tip of Queens.  They were victims not just of flood but fires also as the runaway flames ripped through dozens of dwellings.

Their Rockaway neighbors, also heavily Irish, were also destroyed by the hurricane which flattened residences and drove massive storm surges down main streets.

Likewise in Staten Island and New Jersey and Long Island, it was working class Irish neighborhoods that took the brunt of Sandy’s wrath, facing the worst damage on an unimaginable scale.

We know the Irish are nothing but resilient, but the wounds are deep and the blows severe.

We as a community must rise up and help them in whatever way we can.

The American Ireland Fund was quickest to the rescue, committing $100,000, while Wall Street leader Robert McCann matched that figure in a gesture of great generosity.

The Irish agencies in the neighborhoods have been quick to react, and there will surely be far more fundraising done in the weeks and months ahead.

The future for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut has changed forever. The coastal areas in particular will never be the same.

The new normal is that we have become Holland, existing at close to or below sea level, and we must behave accordingly.

The dykes and levies that protect Holland must be put in place here to avoid such a catastrophe in the future.

Bad and all as Sandy was, it could have been a lot worse. Sandy was a Category 1 hurricane. One can only imagine the destruction if it was Category 3 like the 1938 ‘cane on the Island, one Category 5 like Hurricane Katrina which felled New Orleans.

We have been warned on the East Coast of the fury and power of that same wind and water that so often seems so docile to us.

Hopefully we will learn the lesson.