Devastating storms, such as Hurricane Sandy, have a nasty habit of hanging around and reminding everyone how destructive they were, even after the winds have died down and the waters have receded.


Residents of two seaside towns in New Jersey got a painful dose of this on Sept. 12, when a fire destroyed more than 20 businesses along the boardwalk.


After much speculation about the possibility of arson, officials declared that the fire that tore through Seaside Park and Seaside Heights was an accidental blaze caused by faulty wiring left behind from Hurricane Sandy. In fact, when Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato announced that he was dropping his criminal investigation into the fire, he explained that investigators had pinpointed the start of the blaze to wires that were inaccessible to people because of sand drifts under the boardwalk left behind after the storm.


The announcement served as a note of caution in the days leading to the one-year anniversary of Sandy. 


Shortly after the fire was ruled accidental, the Copper Development Association (CDA) issued its own statement urging property owners to have their electrical equipment thoroughly inspected for possible damage. The statement advises that reusing equipment and wiring that has been exposed to saltwater or contamination can be extremely dangerous. In some cases, electrical equipment that has experienced water damage may be reconditioned and reused; however, in most cases, it should be replaced. 


In its announcement, the CDA references a 2004 publication by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, which provides advice on the safe handling of electrical equipment that has been exposed to water. “Evaluating Water Damaged Electrical Systems” states that ocean water and salt spray can be particularly damaging due to their corrosive and conductive nature.