Power Struggle: Hurricane Sandy Recovery

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Hurricane Sandy hit the New Jersey coast on Monday, October 29, and here in that state we are still in the recovery stage. As I write this, TFM’s offices in central New Jersey remain without power (we have relocated to a temporary space and are operational), and all around are people are assessing the damage and trying to help each other with basic needs.

In Ocean Grove, NJ, this storefront faces what's left of the boardwalk there. The Atlantic Ocean is located behind the store.

The natural disasters occurring across North America in recent years have no doubt impacted many facility managers (fms), and the northeastern U.S. has joined those ranks learning to recover—and planning how to prepare for “the next time.”

While there are certainly many facets to an effective emergency preparedness plan, the glaring aspect to me is how dependence on “the grid” for power is an increasingly risky endeavor. This is not news to fms, of course.

Another challenge that has surfaced time and time again this past week has been lack of communication and information. Cell phones were key tools for many when landlines went down. A complaint frequently heard in New Jersey and New York (Gov. Cuomo there even weighed in) was the lack of information provided by power companies, and if there was information provided, it was often available by phone or the Web — outlets people can’t access if they do not have power.

Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ is one of many sites of fallen trees.

So this Blog, while reporting on what’s happening in TFM‘s area, is also a call to fms who want to ramp up the conversation on this pressing issue of grid reliability. Have you had success in reducing your dependence? Are you in the process of researching your options? Or are you not in the position to make a change and wondering what you can do to lower your risk of losing power due to conditions beyond your control?

Whatever your status, if this issue is of interest, share you thoughts, suggestions, and stories. As 2013 approaches, TFM will provide useful insight for fms who want to increase their organizations’ ability to function independently while also taking advantage of the common infrastructures we share.

(Photos: copyright 2012 Heidi Schwartz)

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