A matter of perspective

Published in FSD Update

A year after Hurricane Sandy, Editorial Director Paul King reflects on his own "disaster preparedness."

A year ago this week, I and millions of my fellow residents of the Northeast lived through the terrifying experience of Hurricane Sandy. It was only the third hurricane to strike New York City since I had moved there in 1984, and it was by far the most destructive.

Now, as I write this I am looking out at the skyline of Chicago from our 20th-floor office in the western suburbs of the Windy City. I relocated earlier this year in a move totally unrelated to the hurricane and its aftermath. So I’m now a world away from that frightening 18 hours of Oct. 29 and 30, 2012, both in time and distance. But the mark that it left is indelible.

The message of Sandy also is etched in my consciousness: No matter how prepared you might think you are, there is always something more you can do.

I had lived on Staten Island for most of the past 30 years but had relocated to what New York City considers a Zone 1 evacuation only in July of 2010. My wife loves the beach and we relished the fact that we were now only 10 blocks from it. Fear of a hurricane strike never hit us; the only tropical storm in my memory was Hurricane Gloria in 1985 and although it had caused $300 million in damages it had made little impact on me.

Then came Hurricane Irene, in August of 2011. We were warned of the potential danger and told to evacuate. Like virtually all of our neighbors, we scoffed at the suggestion, although my landlord did board up the picture window in our second-floor apartment.

Irene came and went, and we gained confidence from the experience. We knew what to do to ride out a major storm and how to handle the loss of power that could last a few days.

So when the alarms for Sandy were sounded, we actually did a little less than we had for Irene. We ourselves made sure we had the same kinds of provisions as we had a year earlier, but this time our landlord didn’t even board up the windows. As a result, we were able to witness firsthand the fury of this hurricane.

As the night wore on, and the storm surge inundated basements and threatened to flood the lower levels of neighborhood homes, we wondered whether we in fact were right not to evacuate. In the end, we and most of our neighbors remained safe. But the destruction we saw mere blocks from our apartment was shocking, and the tragedy stung me personally, as well.

When the World Trade Center came down 11 years earlier, I knew not a single person among the thousands who perished there. But a friend of mine and his son were two of the 38 people who died during Hurricane Sandy.

If there is a moral to this story for foodservice professionals, it would be this: However you prepare for a disaster, it just might not be enough. When you draft a disaster plan and make a list of what you will need for X, Y or Z, how confident are you that it is complete? And when the warnings come, as they did for us with Sandy, how much credence do you truly give them?

Reflecting on Hurricane Sandy, I don’t know whether we would have done anything differently; it was a huge storm, and when I think about evacuation I still ask myself, where would we have gone to feel truly safe?

But I do know this; if I find myself in this type of situation again, I will be more thorough in my examination of all my options. Whatever happens, I want to know that I did everything right that I could. You, dear readers, should approach your disaster preparedness the same way.

Keywords: 
news

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
desserts plate

We’re knocking down a wall in our bar area, which will create a more inviting atmosphere and allow us to host a coffee and dessert bar in the space on off nights when the bar is closed.

Industry News & Opinion
nacufs award

Ohio University Director of Culinary Services Rich Neumann was on Wednesday evening awarded NACUFS’ 49th annual Theodore W. Minah Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest honor.

Neumann’s foodservice career began as an undergraduate at University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. After his first day as a student cook, he says, his production manager wanted to fire him because he was striving for perfection, not—as she put it—“now and fast.” But he kept with it, eventually moving up to student manager. “If I had quit, I would not be here today,” he says.

During...

Sponsored Content
iced coffee foodservice

From International Delight ® Iced Coffee and STOK ® Cold Brew.

As temperatures soar, consumers look for any way they can to cool down. Much of the time, that means sipping on a cold beverage. And for the many patrons looking for a pick-me-up, iced coffee is a go-to choice, as it wakes them up and cools them down.

It’s no surprise, then, that iced coffee is a growing opportunity for operators. In Technomic’s 2016 Beverage Consumer Trend Report, 59% of consumers say they ordered iced coffee at least once in the past month from foodservice locations. With demand continuing to...

Industry News & Opinion

Oxnard Union High School District in Oxnard, Calif., is ending its meatless Mondays initiative due to cost and a lack of participation, the Camarillo Acorn reports.

Meatless Monday , which was offered on Fridays during the most recent school year, was the least popular lunch day during the week, according to school officials. The district hopes that the menu change will encourage more students to purchase school meals and help eliminate the $2 million deficit in its nutrition budget.

While 61% of students in the district qualify for free meals, only around half eat at the...

FSD Resources