In the days leading up to Oct. 29, 2012, the residents of New England waited in nervous anticipation as a tropical storm traveled up the East Coast and was predicted to make landfall in their quarters.
With hundreds of evacuations ordered by local governments, and thousands of citizens boarding and sandbagging their homes and businesses, it appeared the region was prepared for the full impact of the storm. But as we now know, the area was ill equipped to match the wrath of Hurricane Sandy.
By 8 p.m., that dark, gloomy day, the tropical storm had slammed into the Jersey Shore with gale winds as high as 80 mph. Surges of water rose from the sea, more than 30 feet in some cases, flooding homes and razing entire neighborhoods. Branches snapped off trees. Power lines came down. Fires broke out. Thousands of cars were submerged and trodden under the rushing tide.
By the end of Sandy’s wake, thousands of families lost their homes and more than 100 people lost their lives.
For East Coast jan/san distributors the storm left behind mixed blessings. While the distributors interviewed for this article say their employees and families largely escaped the physical damage left in the hurricane’s path, the emotional toll caused by the storm’s widespread devastation — and the costly interruption of business — remain matters distributors are still reeling from four months after the storm.
“It was traumatizing,” says Hank Joseph’s, president of Spruce Industries in Rahway, N.J. “It killed business. Most of the guys say ‘We lost a week of business.’ How do you get that back?”
Those who lost a week’s worth of business were considered lucky. Peter Davidson, a manufacturer’s representative at Leading Edge Associates, Old Bethpage, N.Y., and a trustee of the NJSSA, The Association of Mid-Atlantic Cleaning Experts, calls the entire month of November 2012 “a complete write-off.”
“Everything came to a standstill,” Davidson says. “It was almost impossible to conduct business for weeks. With our power out we had no lights, heat, phone or Internet. Cellular phone service was overwhelmed. We were unable to make sales calls for three weeks. Most distributors I spoke with shared the same experience.”
For Scoles Floorshine, in Wall, N.J., a township located about five miles off the coast, the amount of lost business equated to one month, says vice president of sales and operations, Evan Ghen.
“It dramatically affected our business,” Ghen says of the storm. “The majority of our customers in the affected areas shut down. They weren’t open because their employees couldn’t get in. People were losing their livelihoods, not only their homes. It was mass chaos.”
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POSTED ON: 4/12/2013