The Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy


Hurricane Sandy began in Jamaica on October 22nd, developing from an elongated tropical wave near the Caribbean sea and left a trail of death and destruction from North Carolina to Maine, New York to West Virginia, that may take years to fully recover from. The superstorm killed more than 70 people in the Caribbean before killing at least another 70 in the United States. It left tens of billions of dollars in damage, and crippled New York, which is only now crawling back to normalcy through never ending bus lines and gridlocked streets.

More than 12,000 flights were canceled due to the hurricane and the three main airports which serve New York City were shut down for two days. The Port of New York and New Jersey was shut down as well, and is likely to remain closed to vessel operations until at least Saturday when surveys of vessel channels are completed and marine terminals can clean up some of the extensive damage caused by the storm surge Monday night.

There was no trading for two days on Wall Street as a result of the storm damage. The last time the New York Stock Exchange closed for two consecutive days for weather-related reasons was 1888. Sandy caused the worst damage in the NY subway’s 108-year-history. In one of the worst affected areas, more than 100 homes were destroyed by an overnight blaze in the Irish enclave of Breezy Point in Queens.

Estimated to run into tens of billions of dollars, the scope and cost of the damage is still unknown. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey called it “incalculable. In comparison, Hurricane Irene, a New York storm which hit in August of 2011, cost the city alone $55 million, according to the New York Daily News. As a result of the storm, the Greenwich Village Halloween parade was postponed for the first time in the parade’s 39-year-history. Over 4.8 million customers remained without power on Thursday morning in 15 states and the District of Columbia, according to CNN. The worst affected states are New Jersey with 1,983,694 customers out of power; New York with 1,514,147; Pennsylvania with 526,934; and Connecticut with 352,286.

So that was the factual side of this natural disaster. Now seeing as we experienced this first hand, this is personal to us. Many of my colleagues lost their power, had their homes flooded with water and I have friends in the city that knew people that lost their lives in the storm. I don’t think New Yorkers were truly aware of Sandy’s severity until the destruction was undeniable.

Our headquarters on 37th street and 5th avenue have been without power since Monday. Even though this was an obvious setback for us, we stayed on top of our game, by updating our customers and working hard to make sure we reduce the burden on them. Our industry is global, our customers are spread widely across the United States and we can not be out of reach, not even for one day. New York is crippled, literally. People are having a very difficult time getting in to the city, and getting out of the city. And even if you do manage to get in to the city, there is no power below 39th street. You have to be agile in unexpected situations like these. On Sunday we took our precautions after hearing the news of the upcoming hurricane, and we went to the office to collect what we needed in case of emergency – our laptops, files etc. Monday came, and so did Sandy. What do you do when a city with one of the best infrastructures in the world shuts down? You adapt. No trains? You walk. No power at home? You find power. You make sure you can attend to your customers, regardless of the circumstances.

Above you can see our Key Account Manager Peter walking to the office this morning from Brooklyn, here crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. As I mentioned above, most public transit is still down, but we can’t let that stop us from doing our jobs.

Our servers are working from a second location in Canada in case of a disaster, and our west coast office is trained to handle operations while the east coast is out of reach. Our New York employees are currently all working from wherever they can find electricity. A few live examples from yesterday and today:
Our import team Wednesday morning, sitting at the deli outside our office waiting for our building manager to give us a status report.
Our import team Wednesday morning, sitting at the deli outside our office waiting for our building manager to give us a status report.
Seeing as our building was to remain closed due to the power blackout, our import team moved to an office space nearby where they could work.
Seeing as our building was to remain closed due to the power blackout, our import team moved to an office space nearby where they could work.
Although Halloween was basically postponed due to the aftermath of the storm, Lora, our Vice President of Sales and her assistants Kendra and Alison still found some time yesterday to honor the tradition of the holiday.
This is me earlier today, sitting on my fire escape. As I lost my internet connection, the only way I could go online was by connecting to the McDonald’s wifi across the street.
Some of us were fortunate enough to have power at home, and be able to work from there. Above you see Can, our Vice President of Business Development, and his little assistant for the day – his newborn son Emir.
While some of us had no problems concentrating on work at home…
Others struggled with a few distractions…
This picture was sent to me from one of my costumers in New Jersey, and with his permission I am sharing it with you. He lost all power both in the office and at home so he created an alternate office in the back of his van. You make it work, anyway you can.