To stay, or to go? To stay, or to go? This was the question on every one’s mind here at the Jersey Shore as October of this year came to an end. The recent unpredictability of storms that had been forcasted to hit us here at the shore, and fortunately never made land fall… had locals up in arms as to what to do. What was it going to take to convince people to evacuate? Being in the rental industry, to stay or go was only one of the many questions to tackle as Sandy approached. Do we call everything off, cancel all events, and break everything down? I remember back to the beginning of that week, and not know what we were going to do. Some of us were even chalking it all up to another “storm blown out of proportion by the media”. As the days progressed, and the weather forecasters became more and more adamant on evacuation, we turned our attention to what? Facebook. Here we followed not only local municipalities and mandatory evacuations, weather forecasts and school closings… But also our other local friends in the rental industries. One thing became very apparent. Everyone was preparing for the worst. Following the wall posts of friends like Miller’s, L&A, Taylor, and United… We knew what we too had to do.
We had to plan accordingly. Safety first. We scheduled to breakdown and pickup any tents we had out. Make sure any rentals that were being used at outdoor venues were either safe and secure, or cancelled and removed. We had to begin to contact any upcoming events and discuss with our customers their plan of attack and possible rain dates for after Sandy subsided. Any subrentals that needed to be picked up, we had to make sure we had them all in our warehouses and ready to go based on the possibility of these businesses being evacuated for an extended period of time. All of these steps, although in hindsight now seem minuscule compared to the mass devastation that hit us here at the Jersey Shore, were very necessary to save our business. As the last steps were being taken at the end of the day on October the 27th, windows taped… doors sandbagged… trucks strategically parked… No one was quite prepared for what was about to hit.
Luckily Party Corner/Party Line came out on the other end in one piece, however I could not say the same for our surrounding community. Towns were wiped right off the map. Businesses picked up off of their foundations and strewn like a deck of cards across the shore. Homes destroyed, and lives lost. This was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The days, weeks, and now months following sandy would show the true determination of the surrounding communities to unite for a common goal. To restore the shore.
It is not to say that we as a company came out completely unscathed. Although structurally sound, with no visible damage… Sandy hit at one of our busiest retail times of the year… Halloween. While the local communities tried to “save Halloween” to perhaps keep some form of normalcy for the children, by pushing it back, and pushing it back… It just never happened. And, as with anyone else who lost business during this time, that revenue is just something you will not be able to get back.
However, on the rental end of the business… We are fortunate enough to be able to help out in a big way. Not only are generators and heaters a hot commodity… But tents are needed left and right. Largely in part for make shift, portable kitchens to feed the hundreds of displaced residents and all of the volunteers from around the country who have stepped up to help us restore the shore. Grills, ovens, stove tops, pot boilers, griddles… Cambros, coolers, proofing boxes… Tables & chairs… Anything and everything you could think of to pull this off! Tons of local restaurants and caterers extended a hand in the cooking, while local residents and companies donated the food, and we were able to help put the kitchen together. It really was a group effort.
As the need for these kitchens are coming to an end, and the communities are beginning to rebuild, there is a new need for tents. Different contracting companies are coming in and beginning to set up shop to rebuild. On the cold days of the approaching winter, a nice warm heated tent for lunch breaks and a place to mentally recharge are next on our list of ways to get involved and keep the business moving. Just like the communities have come together to help restore, we too will help in any and every way we can.
While Party Corner/Party Line consider ourselves very lucky considering what could have been… Our hearts and prayers go out to those who were not quite as lucky. Not unlike the Jersey shore community, us as a rental community needs to come together and lend a hand as need be. I can’t even begin to imagine some of the damage other local rental companies have gone through. As they just now begin to scratch the surface of the rebuilding process, we need to remember to help each other as we help ourselves. We will rebuild, revive, and restore the shore.