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November 6, 2012 9:03 AM Age: 5 yrs

The Storm

Category: Hank Boerner Articles
Source:  Hank Boerner, Chairman GAI

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G&A Institute is back on line and in touch with the rest of the world.   As the world now well knows, Hurricane Sandy blew through the Northeastern US states last week, causing great destruction of private property and infrastructure, and causing more than 100 deaths in the New York region.  For the first time in memory, the tropical storm drove rising seas directly at the southern end of Manhattan Island, flooding downtown and uptown streets with sea water and rivers pouring into vehicular tunnels and subway and rail tunnels and into residential areas. Hospitals were evacuated; all public transportation ceased operations.

The incoming Atlantic Ocean waters swamped one of the world's most vital financial centers.  The New York Stock Exchange closed its doors for a time, as did major financial houses -- affecting financial markets around the globe.  This demonstrated the interconnectivity of the markets today. 

Many Manhattan island residents fled to safety. Many more sheltered in place with their families without electric, water, phone services, and other vitals of modern life. Millions stayed put, sheltered inside their homes, cut off from the outside world as internet and phone service failed. Imagine being in a high rise apartment with small children for days in conditions like these.

Around the region similar conditions existed.  Communities along the New Jersey shoreline were devastated; entire communities flooded; the electric power system failed for the most part throughout the state..

We are thankful to report that for the most part G&A team members and their families are OK, and all accounted for.  Too many family members and friends lost their homes or experienced significant damage to their homes.  The news around us is heartbreaking.  At the same time, we are comforted; New Yorkers and New Jerseyans are a hardy breed (you watch us on all of those great TV series!) and we are coming back.

G&A information platforms stayed up all through the storm, including our resources specifically designed to help clients manage their critical events and maintain communication (for "command and control") with their workforce.  As land lines, internet, cell phones and even emergency electric service steadily deteriorated, it was hard for us to communicate with each other and with the world, but we were back at work as the winds and rain moved beyond the region. 

Thanks to team member Dave Vieser, manning "the southern HQs" in North Carolina, who kept Accountability Center news distribution up and running.

Our colleague, Ken Cynar, has a moving commentary posted on Accountability Central.  He wrote this out as he sat in the dark at home. 

We add our thanks here to the dedicated first responders who rallied to save community members; thanks to neighbors who helped neighbors; and of course, we must recognize the efforts of public sector leaders such as Governor Andrew Cuomo; Governor Chris Christine; Governor Dan Malloy; NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg; the suburban county executives (Nassau's Ed Mangano, Suffolk's Steve Bellone, Westchester's Robert Astorino).  And the American Red Cross, National Guard and FEMA responders.  The list goes on -- we New Yorkers are a hardy breed and we are on the way back, thanks to the help extended by many folks far beyond this region.

We have to say that the response to the storm and the activities going on immediately after are very good examples of why we need effective government and why only government can do certain things.  There's a place for the public sector; for the private sector; and there is a clear need for good cooperation between both sectors and with the social sector.

Great thanks are in order to the people beyond the storm area; the Great and Generous American Spirit is evident in the outpouring of well wishes and prayers, and aid of all kinds streaming into the New York region.  "Thank you!" seems inadequate, but we mean it!

As an important note, I would add that in these parts we are somewhat used to dealing with storms in this region; we do experience hurricanes, great Nor'easters, blizzards, ice storms, even wide power blackouts.  We live in a maritime environment.  Suburban Long Island, where many of G&A Institute‚Äôs team live, juts out up to 100 miles distant from New York City -- and therefore, the same distance out into the sometimes destructive waters, tides, waves of the Atlantic Ocean all along our southern shoreline.. 

The last destructive hurricane passed through here in September 1938 -- the post-Labor Day "Long Island Express" which crossed over Westhampton, Long Island and barreled into southern New England, flooding cities and causing hundreds of deaths.  Not many folks are around with memories of that great storm.  The New Jersey shoreline communities have had a number of great storms but nothing like this one.

Those barrier beaches of New Jersey were scenes of great destruction, as were the southern shorelines of New York's Long Island.  Think of New York City as a crowded archipelago; [the city center] Manhattan is an island, surrounded by rivers and fronting a great bay; Richmond County (Staten Island) is part of the city proper; two other boroughs of New York City, Brooklyn (Kings County) and Queens (County) are on Long Island.  Queens is home to LaGuardia Airport (totally under water in the storm; it is located below sea level) and Kennedy International (sitting on the ocean edge, many parts underwater).

Three million-plus people a day flow into the city center from these locations to work in Manhattan; millions more flow around the region from home to office or other work locations.  Amazing that it all works. And when it doesn't -- well, you've seen the news reports of the stranded and isolated in New York State and New Jersey and many in Connecticut.

We are working our way back.  Stay Tuned to the New York region recovery -- and keep the folks here in your prayers and thoughts.  Many folks here really do need your help.  (Thank you to the Disney organization and its platforms such as the ABC network for raising funds and drawing attention to our needs.)

Finally, we would ask:  What does this storm say about individual accountability and responsibility?  About collective accountability and responsibility?  About the debate on global warming, or at least, climate change.

Questions are raiseed about both private and public sectors: did leaders do enough to prepare for the storm and its aftermath?  These questions will be answered in the days ahead.  For now...thank you all who pitched in to help!

Hank Boerner for the G&A Institute Team

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