The devastation left in the wake of Superstorm Sandy will be felt for a long time in communities along the East Coast, with the greatest damage in New Jersey and New York where Sandy made landfall just after being downgraded from a hurricane. There it collided with a cold front to create unprecedented storm conditions.
More than week after the storm, many communities were still without power, even as stretched crews worked to remedy the situation. And fuel shortages in the hardest hit areas added to the challenges as people and businesses tried to keep their generators running.
The problem wasn’t lack of fuel in the area, according to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in a press conference on the Saturday following the storm. Rather it’s a problem of getting the fuel where it needs to be. No electricity means that fuel can’t be pumped from underground tanks, and damage along the seaside is hampering transfer from tankers to shore.
Road closures, power outages and flooding continue to disrupt the supply chain from Washington, D.C. through Connecticut.
In Maryland and West Virginia, several feet of snow fell, causing additional power outages and delays to repairs.
Even with all the problems, however, many of the impacted communities were better prepared for this storm than they have been in the past. Business the week before the storm was “tremendously busy” for Tipco Technologies Inc., a fluid power distributor based in Owings Mills, MD, with people looking for equipment to “dewater what would need to be dewatered” after the storm, says Rob Lyons, Tipco’s president.
Southampton, NY-based REVCO Lighting and Electrical Supply also reported strong activity before the storm as customers sought generators and related equipment, according to an article from TED Magazine.
“The biggest impact for us quite frankly was losing commerce for two days,” Lyons says. “We didn’t lose it nearly as long as some of our friends up North are going to lose it, but that type of activity when it’s unplanned like that … payroll still comes, inventory still shows up, all of our costs are very real.”
Based on historic trends seen in the MDM-Baird Quarterly Distribution Survey, companies may see a boost in revenues in the fourth quarter due to ongoing storm damage repairs – particularly companies that operate in the building products and electrical sectors.
Distributors Doing Their Part
Response to the storm has been broad and quick. The federal government had the mechanisms for disaster declarations in place prior to Sandy making landfall, and companies across the country are doing what they can to provide relief to the most devastated areas. Here are some of the responses we’ve seen:
Tipco Technologies kept locations open on Monday and Tuesday with skeleton crews to ensure that customers’ emergency needs could be met. “We weren’t really busy on Tuesday (the day after the storm), but those customers who came in or called were really happy that we were,” Lyons says.
In addition, Tipco’s supply partners have been offering additional discounts on products used for disaster response.
Companies in the heavily impacted areas, such as G&G Electric in New York City, also moved quickly to reopen after the storm, even if it meant operating on generators, according to reports from Electrical Marketing’s LiveWire.
Inline Distributing, Sylmar, CA, sent its Disaster Recovery Units – 53-foot mobile warehouses stocked with equipment for restoration companies and contractors responding to the disaster – to areas hit by Superstorm Sandy. The units include satellite phones, mobile lights and generators, wet/dry vacs and more.
Albuquerque, NM-based Summit Electric Supply is matching all associate donations to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army for disaster relief through Nov. 8. As of Nov. 2, donations and matching funds had surpassed $22,000.