November 9th, 2012
Now, a few days after Hurricane Sandy, I've snagged some time to reflect upon a few disasters, natural and unnatural, in my life. It's a blessing of age that I don't get as flustered as I once did, and I have devised some sort of routine about “what to do". Of course being a normally emotional person and being a business owner with over 250 employees has its own complications. My mind tends to go straight to survival and to preserving our organization.
When Sandy hit the ground in NYC 8:30 pm, I headed down the hill from my home in Brooklyn Heights to the factory where we produce our jewelry. As I reached the neighborhood referred to as DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Brooklyn Overpass) I saw that it was clearly a disaster. The Hudson River had engulfed two city blocks of DUMBO lowland. Across that river, the south end of Manhattan was to have no electricity for a week. Unprecedented. Having grown up in NYC I have seen a few hurricanes and seriously nasty weather but never anything as epic as this.
The next day I had to assess the damage to the business and lay a game plan for my staff. In the end we had to shut down the entire NY operation for a total of 5 days. Our stores and offices had no electrical power. Some of my staff had damage to their homes. NY was stunned. People came out to see the wrath of the storm, but overall there was a sense of community that engulfed the city after this great shock. It's one of the amazing and unexpected features of NYC. "The city that never sleeps" is known for its stock market traders, screaming cab drivers and Sex in the City girls frenetically shopping. Weirdly and wonderfully, in times of crisis all demographics pull together instantly and reflexively. This is not true solely of NY; it seems to be an amazing universal human trait.
Both slowly and quickly, NYC has rebounded and resumed a healthy dose of normalcy. You kind of wish you'd run into a surly cab driver, a screaming Rite Aid clerk, or a subway commuter with sharp elbows to remind you that everyone has truly shifted back to type. Hopefully, the 20,000 people who were displaced by the storm will find shelter and normalcy in their lives asap. My thoughts are with them. We are at back to work at Alexis Bittar Inc and oddly enough I've never seen my staff so happy to be here. The sense of purpose that work provides, shutting the door on the constant TV destruction saga, has made our workplace a happy place to resume life.