Tuesday | 19 March, 2013 | 10:07 am

Surviving Sandy

By Gretchen Salois

Businesses try to stay afloat in Hurricane Sandy’s wake

March 2013 - Immediately after Hurricane Sandy, Congress debated how much relief to give its victims. As they waited for a decision, many businesses needed to wade through the storm’s aftermath, a difficult task for anyone whose facility was a casualty of an unruly feat of nature.

While scrap metal companies may see a surge in business to conduct cleanup jobs to remove debris, other businesses, like Blue Blade Steel in Kenilworth, N.J., were spared devastation but not without setbacks. After  temporarily losing power for a few days, “we were very lucky compared to many businesses that have suffered much more serious outages and damages,” says Jerry Shaw Jr., business development manager. “Part of our roof was lost during the storm but quickly [repaired] and we were lucky that no equipment or materials were compromised as a result.”

While Blue Blade Steel may have come out without critical damages, many of its employees didn’t fare so well—a consideration any company must take into account when faced with such an unfortunate disaster. Many employees at Blue Blade Steel lost power and some were still without power more then 10 days after the storm. Jerry Shaw Sr., president and owner, and his leadership team “made the decision to pay all union hourly workers for the full mm-0325-webex-sandy-image140-hour week, even though the plant was shut down and most were unable to commute to the plant,” Shaw Jr. says. Blue Blade Steel also paid overtime to those who came in to help clean up while the plant was shut down from the storm.

Months later, still affected

According to Reuters, stocks of gasoline on the East Coast are 10 percent less than during the same time last year because of two refinery closures in the Caribbean and Europe, “major exporters to New York Harbor—as well as supply problems caused by Hurricane Sandy.” 

Even though Blue Blade Steel wasn’t terribly disabled by the storm, Shaw Jr. says rebuilding was still necessary. “I see a rebuilding process for many companies. Again, we were one of the lucky ones, we lost a few days of production, but we were able to make that up very quickly because our equipment and materials were undamaged,” he says. Despite the devastation, “Many of us are stronger than ever having survived the storm and in the process, realized the strength and resolve of our communities.” 

When asked how the public might be able to help those businesses in need, Shaw Jr. says, “There are many ways to donate to New Jersey and the rebuild, but the best way is to simply continue doing business as usual wherever possible in New Jersey. New Jersey businesses will continue to support our communities and every transaction is a benefit to the rebuild.” MM

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