Impact of Hurricane Sandy on community pharmacies in severely affected areas of New York City: A qualitative assessment


  • Vibhuti Arya, PharmD, MPH
  • Eric Medina, MPA
  • Allison Scaccia, RN
  • Cathleen Mathew, PharmD
  • David Starr, MIA



emergency preparedness, pharmacy, impact, medication access, disaster planning and management, Hurricane Sandy


Hurricane Sandy was one of the most severe natural disasters to hit the Mid-Atlantic States in recent history. Community pharmacies were among the businesses affected, with flooding and power outages significantly reducing services offered by many pharmacies. The objectives of our study were to assess the impact of Hurricane Sandy on community pharmacies, both independently owned and chain, in the severely affected areas of New York City (NYC), including Coney Island, Staten Island, and the Rockaways, using qualitative methods, and propose strategies to mitigate the impact of future storms and disasters. Of the total 52 solicited pharmacies, 35 (67 percent) responded and were included in our analysis. Only 10 (29 percent) of the pharmacies surveyed reported having a generator during Hurricane Sandy; 37 percent reported being equipped with a generator at the time of the survey approximately 1 year later. Our findings suggest that issues other than power outages contributed more toward a pharmacy remaining operational after the storm. Of those surveyed, 26 (74 percent) suffered from structural damage (most commonly in Coney Island). Most pharmacies (71 percent) were able to reopen within 1 month. Despite staffing challenges, most pharmacies (88 percent) had enough pharmacists/staff to resume normal operations. Overall, 91 percent were aware of law changes for emergency medication access, and 81 percent found the information easy to obtain. This survey helped inform our work toward improved community resiliency. Our findings have helped us recognize community pharmacists as important stakeholders and refocus our energy toward developing sustained partnerships with them in NYC as part of our ongoing preparedness strategy.

Author Biographies

Vibhuti Arya, PharmD, MPH

Associate Clinical Professor, St. John's University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Queens, New York; Clinical Advisor, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Queens, New York

Eric Medina, MPA

Countermeasures Special Projects, Emergency Preparedness and Response, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Queens, New York

Allison Scaccia, RN

Countermeasures Special Projects Manager, Emergency Preparedness and Response, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Queens, New York

Cathleen Mathew, PharmD

PGY1 Resident, Brookdale Hospital, Brooklyn, New York

David Starr, MIA

Director, Countermeasures Response Unit, Emergency Preparedness and Response, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Queens, New York


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How to Cite

Arya, PharmD, MPH, V., E. Medina, MPA, A. Scaccia, RN, C. Mathew, PharmD, and D. Starr, MIA. “Impact of Hurricane Sandy on Community Pharmacies in Severely Affected Areas of New York City: A Qualitative Assessment”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 11, no. 1, Jan. 2016, pp. 21-30, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2016.0221.