November 13, 2012
As we left work for the weekend on Friday, Oct. 26, our November issue was at the printer, due for publication the following week. We were all keeping a wary eye on the approaching Superstorm Sandy. By Sunday night, Oct. 28, New York officials had shut down the city’s entire public transportation system. Thoughts of the hurricane hybrid maybe missing the region quickly vanished.
Sandy hit the New Jersey shore, just south of Atlantic City, on Oct. 29; and an unprecedented 13-foot storm surge smashed into Lower Manhattan that evening, resulting in extensive flooding and cutting the power and communications to most buildings in the city below 34th Street.
In total, Sandy killed more than 120 people and caused an estimated $50 billion in damages and economic losses from Jamaica to the Northeast United States. In New York, government officials called it one of the region’s worst natural disasters in history.
Sandy effectively shut down Lower Manhattan, where PRSA’s office is located. (The storm also knocked out the power to Tactics’ printing plant in New Jersey.) For almost two weeks, utility providers were unable to supply the basic services necessary to enable our building’s telephone and Internet capabilities. The heat and power eventually returned to our building on Maiden Lane, and were we able to resume work on Nov. 8. It was good to be back. My co-workers exchanged storm stories. Some people suffered extensive loss of personal property while others were mostly unaffected. Everyone was safe, though.
As an office, we were fortunate. According to BusinessWeek, there were 445 office and residential properties in the Financial District that the city determined were uninhabitable even while they may not have any structural damage. (Almost 33 percent of the 101 million square feet of Lower Manhattan office space was reportedly not operational as of Nov. 7.) Many companies based downtown will need to work from alternate spaces for up to six months, as the salt water destroyed their electrical, heating and water systems.
That said, as we’re up and running again, we’ve posted the November issue of Tactics online, and we apologize that you’ll be receiving this print edition several weeks late. In the months ahead, we’ll explore PR lessons learned from the storm. For now, we’re counting our blessings, and hope that all of you are doing well. Best wishes from us this holiday season. — John Elsasser