Seven Days After Sandy: A “Guest” Post

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The  PRDude)

Last time, I wrote a few thoughts about the latest natural disaster to strike our nation, what’s now called “superstorm” Sandy.  I tried to “make sense” of what happened to a big city like New York and small towns down the Jersey coast. If you missed the post, read on.

Tonight, a week after this devastating storm, I’m sharing this space with a very good friend, Paul Fetscher, who lived through Sandy.  He’s a native New Yorker who now lives in the town of Long Beach, New York, right on Long Island.  Here’s what he shared in thoughts and images:

Sandy was not kind to Long Beach. The Ocean met the Bay. Every street and home on the island got flooded.

Still no Water, Sewer, Electric, Heat or … Newspaper Delivery. OK. No mail either.

Needless to say, no internet, cell or email either.  I need to drive to Rockville Centre to batch send and receive emails.  That requires gas which is a scarce commodity. Gas lines if open are best part of a mile and about 3 hours long.

Estimates for water restoration are several days; power 10-14 Days and train service in Weeks.

Teams are here in force from the National Guard to Homeland Security and State Troopers to FEMA.

Apparently the City of Long Beach lost many of their vehicles. So we are seeing ambulances, fire trucks and police vehicles from throughout NY & NJ. The furthest helpers are Serve-Pro trucks from Jackson Mississippi.

Attitude is great!  Everyone is cooperative. Its reminiscent of the “Era of Good Feeling” after 9/11.

Long Beach is getting Red Cross relief and Meals Ready to Eat. Verizon has a station for short calls and phone charging.

We’ve got Helicopter patrols along the perimeter.

For three days we had road blocks manned by the State Troopers. They were assuring we had only residents coming in – keeping out the sight seers or potential looters.

The Rockaways also go hit by both the weather and some looters. No they’re pissed that they’re not getting the same TV coverage that Long Beach is. Same for Staten Island.

See, everyone is simply jealous of Long Beach.

I want to post a sign at the entry to Long Beach.

“Giant Multi Home Yard Sale”

And another in Island Park where there is a 40′ boat stranded just opposite the 7-11 parking lot.

“Boat for Sale
Water Extra”

And the adventure continues!  A good sense of humor helps a lot!

I’m actually enjoying cooking everything on a. BBQ from Bacon & Eggs to Pasta.  Roasting potatoes and Brussel Sprouts just take longer.

Since everyone is Safe and Sound, Its (sic) merely an inconvenience.

Thanks for your support.
Paul G W Fetscher CCIM SCLS

Note the optimism in Paul’s thoughts, and the humor.  How he equates the spirit of cooperation in his town to the “let’s pull together” spirit that arose following the terrorist attacks on September 11.  Yes, there’s no doubt that Long Beach will dry out and people will rebuild.  So will New York and the little towns up and down the Jersey shore.

This shake-your-fist-in-the-face-of-adversity attitude is distinctly American.  It’s present — or it should be — from Long Beach, New York to Long Beach, California.

On this evening, just hours from the opening of polls, just hours from the 2012 presidential election, I hope every American who is eligible will vote. Shake your fist in the face of the adversity our nation faces and cast your ballot. I’ll bet the polls will be open in Long Beach.

Trying to Make Sense of Sandy

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Where to start.  Where to try to comprehend the ramifications — short and long-term — following the destruction brought on by wind and water along the most densely-populated part of the United States.

As I write this, the reports of what’s left of parts of the coastal areas of New York and New Jersey keep arriving following the very unlady-like visit from Hurricane Sandy.

This one from the New York Times was posted online just a few minutes ago.  Some accompanying images are below.  More stories and images will come: Stories of survivors and rescuers, flooding and burning, and unfortunately, death.  The images and video will put all of the stories into a perspective we can see and hear.

Here in Chicago, we’ve had rough battles with Mother Nature.  There have been floods and destructive winds, and of course, we can get lots of snow.  You might remember that I chronicled a 20-inch snowfall in a past post.

But I’ve never witnessed firsthand the kind of utter devastation that has struck the Eastern seaboard over the past 48 hours.  I, frankly, I’m not sure what else to say.  Just can’t make sense of what’s happened and what will be the long-term outcome for the people, places and businesses who were in harm’s way.

In my life, I’ve visited New York City many times and remain fascinated by this metropolis. Read this post from a year ago for some insight.  There’s no place like it in this great nation. I’ll be back, and there’s no doubt New York City will be back.

Back to some conclusions from Sandy; here are a few:

  • There will be more storms like Sandy. They’ll cause destruction, and those of us who live far from the coasts will why choose to live there, and why they always rebuild. But rebuild they will.
  • People will blame the government for not doing enough, and there will be times when those responsible for our well-being will fail. But there will be more instances of quiet heroes who do their jobs well but stay out of the spotlight.
  • Sandy will be compared with other catastrophic storms that have battered our coastal areas.  Experts will compare the lives lost and billions of dollars in property damage and lost business.  But it’s impossible to accurately measure the impact to the human psyche of those affected.

In a 2010 post, I determined it necessary to blog about the horrific scene following the earthquakes that struck the island nation of Haiti.  Then I thought there would be some role for public relations to play in Haiti’s recovery.  Didn’t have many solid strategies.

Watching what’s taking place out east, I still don’t.  What about you?  Can you “make sense” of storms like Sandy and what’s left in their wake?  If you’re a public relations professional, what can members of the profession do to help?

NYC Musings or 72 Hours in the Most Crowded, Crazy, Dirty, Diverse, Wonderful, Wacky Place I’ve Ever Visited

The World Trade Center site at night.

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

My New York tweet: NYC explodes on senses. Urban  amalgamation of people, culture, garbage, subways, character, passion, more people: Humanity amidst the chaos.

Want more? Here’s another of my “travelogues” complete with cell camera images.  Highlights from New York, late Friday to waiting for AA #335 at LGA today.

9/11 Memorial and What Was Ground Zero.  Literally steps from my temporary residence (the beautiful, and for New York, reasonable, Club
Quarters World Trade Center
) I could observe the hundreds who waited their turn to visit the 9/11 Memorial.  All were orderly from what I witnessed.  All could have spent their time at one of the hundreds of places that define New York.  Yet they came here, hopefully to tour the memorial, reflect on those who perished and see firsthand the embodiment of American spirit.  Elsewhere on the site, Freedom Tower continued to soar, as earth-moving machines relentlessly laid the groundwork for more development.

Ground zero from the 10th floor.

Asia at the End of the 7 Train.  The subway commute from downtown via the 4 train to Grand Central to the end of the 7 train in Flushing took just over an hour. It left me in a world where I was the minority.  Flushing is an Asian polyglot community full of markets, restaurants, salons and what I was told is the heaviest street traffic outside of Manhattan. I believe it. It’s happened in other cities, including Chicago: A new ethnic group arrives, eclipses the old and thrives.  Here, it’s done on a massive scale.  Note the length of this seafood aisle in the image below. Lunch with myby  commercial real estate friends Paul Fetscher, CCIM and Syed Quadri, CCIM at the New Imperial Palace was delicious, cheap and testimony to what defines this fascinating place: People like Paul, a native, and Syed, who arrived here  30 years ago, can thrive in a place like New York –by working together.

The seafood aisle in a market off Main Street in Flushing was astounding.

My great friends Paul Fetscher (left) and Syed Quadri (right).

A Bittersweet Ending to My Commitment to Accreditation.  My key purpose here was to attend what was my final meeting as a member of the Universal Accreditation Board, the governing body that administers, grants and markets the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential.  In between I ate, drank, explored and heard some great jazz; more on the jazz below.) In 2003, I was one of the first to pursue the APR under the re-engineered format that includes the computer-based Examination. It took me three tries, but I did pass, becoming the first from Chicago to do so under the new format.   The challenges I faced and frustrations I endured – hey, I was a two-time loser – earning Accreditation only strengthened my passion for the credential and practice of strategic and ethical public relations.  After six years on the UAB, I “retired.”  It was an honor to serve and work with many PR professionals who are a lot smarter than me. I’ll miss the camaraderie, the challenges and of course, the opportunity to come to New York a couple of times a year.  I’ll now be able to help professionals from Chicago who want to take the APR challenge.  By the way, have you considered pursuing Accreditation?

My Favorite NYC Things.  As you might expect, one could spend a lot of money in New York. Just check my hotel bill. But there are a lot of things you can do for
free or relatively low cost. On my trip, here are a few things I did that were free, but totally cool:

  • Stroll along the water.  I took the images below on the Esplanade at Battery Park City.  Remember, New York is an island, and much of the shoreline offers some pretty cool vistas and boat traffic.
  • The subways. Something like 3 million people ride NYC subways daily. On my trek out to Flushing on the elevated 7 train, I saw parts of Queens I’ve only seen from the air. Plus, I group of strolling musicians performed a Mexican folk song on our car.  And, they were really good.
  • The architecture.  The concrete and steel canyons of the Financial District downtown provide some of the most varied, interesting and diverse streetscapes anywhere.  From the classically inspired Federal Hall to the new towers among the World Trade Center site, there are tremendous things to see.

And, here are a few things I paid for:

  • Music.  My New Jersey buddy John Burke and I caught the Ravi Coltrane Quintet at the Village Vanguard, a legendary club in Greenwich Village.  The cost was $25, plus a drink. We saw world-class jazz in a venue that was made for it. The rock clubs are gone, but jazz still thrives in New York.
  • Food.  Before the show, we took in a quick dinner at a small – not more than 30-seat – restaurant near the club.  For a total of around 20 bucks, I had shrimp tacos, roasted red pepper soup and a side of Brussels sprouts. Everything was fresh and delicious. Judging by their accents, the young hostess and cooks came from another country to run a restaurant in one of the most competitive, expensive cities in the world. And they were succeeding.
  • Drink. From the lounge atop the Club Quarters, I enjoyed a cold beer, had a great conversation with the young Russian lady bartender and had a penthouse view of the World Trade Center site — in all its soon-to-be glory.  This cost $5.75 plus tip.I’ve been to New York dozens of times.    I’m always enthralled.  What about you? Do you love, hate or just tolerate New York? Share your thoughts.

The Esplanade along the Hudson in Battery Park City.

A Chicago Guy’s Thoughts On New York

Just returned from a whirlwind visit to New York.  City, that is.  My key purpose was to participate in the third quarter meetings for the Universal Accreditation Board, the body that oversees the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) accreditation process.

Full disclosure:  I am a UAB board member and am proud to say I earned the APR in 2004 under the current computer based exam process.

But back to New York.  A lifelong Chicago guy, I’m used to big cities.  But there’s something about New York that fascinates and intrigues me each time I visit.

It’s the juxtaposition of old and new and very rich and very poor, the always frantic pace of everyone and seemingly everything (especially taxis), the great cheap food sold on the streets, the views from Battery Park,  the subways, the earthy smells, the polyglot of people, the enormity of it all.   Yes, the city can be menacing to some.   But I walked the urban canyons Downtown and felt a sense of,  believe it or not, tranquility.

Earlier today, the President spoke at Federal Hall, just steps from the hotel I stayed at on William Street, steps from Wall (the street).   On the narrow and crooked thoroughfares, barricades were put up and the presence of authority was everywhere.  The President  scolded Wall Street for the mess it created though its greed and told the bankers that taxpayers would not bail them out again.    Later, he, well went to lunch.   Just so happens he lunch date was Bill Clinton, and they dined at Il Milano, one of the storied Italian restaurants in the city.

Some may bash the appearance as a “PR photo op,” all for the sake of cameras.  But sound public relations is based on reaching long-range strategic goals.  The Obama administration took advantage of the historic venue — the place where Washington took the oath of office — to drive home a message to Wall Street.  It was a strategic decision.   As for the restaurant choice, that probably did more to add to the mystique of an already famous restaurant.  I’m sure the food is good.

And, it all happened today in New York.   Tomorrow, the corner of William and Wall will return to the bankers and foreign tourists who are just as fascinated as me about this place rarely sleeps and never ceases to amaze.