After the storms ...
As we have done before in times of regional, national and international disasters, Families and Work Institute (FWI) is gathering and posting “impact,” “response,” “best practice,” “assistance” and “future preparedness” information from our network in the wake of hurricane Sandy and the subsequent nor’easter. Collecting and sharing brief stories of what organizations like yours are doing benefits both employees and employers.
- Please scroll down to read about what organizations large and small have been doing to assist their employees and continue operations in the wake of the storms that battered the Northeast this month. In the past, these stories have been an important resource for hundreds of others who are figuring out their strategies or planning for future disasters. As we receive your stories, we will continue to make them available to the public, the media and the work-life community.
- To share or update your stories, email Carol Bryce-Buchanan and we will continue to update the listing as we learn from you and other FWI partners. To do so, in a sentence or two, please answer any of the questions below that apply:
- How has your company or organization been affected by the storm?
- How have you supported those who have been affected by the storm—your employees, their families and communities?
- What have you done for business continuation when your employees, facilities and operations have been affected?
- How are you planning to improve your preparedness for future events of this kind?
For all who have been and are continuing to help in the recovery, we are grateful.
Families and Work Institute
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN
New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM): www.nyc.gov/oem
New York City Sandy Recovery Hotline: (347) 592-2411.The hotline will be staffed from 10am-3pm beginning on Tuesday, November 6th.
New York State Hurricane Sandy Helpline: 1-888-769-7243 or 1-518-485-1159
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): 1-800-621-3362
NYC Service (Volunteerism and Donations): www.nyc.gov/service
NEW YORK STATE DIVISION OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY SERVICES
STATE OF NEW JESEYHURRICANE SANDY INFORMATION CENTER
A BETTER BALANCE
Resources that are available to people in the New York Tri-State area were compiled by A Better Balance
Although their offices in Lower Manhattan were uninhabitable, their commitment to flexibility and telework allowed them to continue their work on behalf of families in New York and around the country with minimal interruption.
Their clinic hotline is available for people with workplace problems related to their family responsibilities, including problems exacerbated by the storm. In addition, they are responding to increased need by offering free legal consultations and referrals for New Yorkers affected by the hurricane who have general employment law questions. Those interested in this service should call their temporary phone number, (347) 762-9116, or email them at email@example.com.
The Alcoa Foundation advised employees that while relief agencies were still assessing needs and mobilizing to provide human services in the Caribbean and in more than a dozen states across the U.S., Alcoa Foundation’s initial efforts and ways for employees to give back included:
- Alcoa Foundation committing $250,000 to a number of relief agencies such as the American Red Cross and United Way to assist in New York and in local Alcoa communities, including Branford, CT; Cleveland, OH; Dover, NJ; Hampton, VA; Lancaster, PA and Washington, DC.
- Through November 9, 2012, Alcoa Foundation matched all employee contributions, dollar for dollar up to $25,000.
- Employees were encouraged to donate to Blood banks which were running low.
- Employee volunteers within driving distance of the areas affected were encouraged to deliver critical supplies, assist in clean-up efforts and volunteer at emergency shelters.
- The Alcoa Foundation partnered with CannedWater4Kids to deliver enough canned water to meet the needs of 4,000 people for one week.
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS
Most of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) efforts focused on supporting their members.
The AAP headquarters facility did not suffer any damage (the building is in Illinois).Select staff and leaders were affected by the increased workload related to helping members and AAP State Chapters, enhancing Web pages, disseminating updates and materials and so forth.
The AAP has a Friends of Children fund that has a select fund for disaster relief. AAP Chapter offices can assess the needs of their members and submit requests for funding/support.
For business continuity, AAP continued to communicate with employees and members via e-mail, phone, call-phone, text and social media, as needed.
To improve their preparedness for future events of this kind, AAP will likely set up an enhanced communication plan to help AAP State Chapters in connecting with AAP headquarters or with each other when there are power outages or other disruptions to regular communication vehicles.
AMERICAN MONTESSORI SOCIETY
The American Montessori Society (AMS) as closed for a week with no power, e-mail or phones.
During the storm, leaders communicated with all employees on a continuing basis to find out how they were and to update them on the status of the office. Everyone was given administrative leave time for the week that the organization’s offices were closed and a liberal arrival and departure time policy was instituted when their offices opened back up. Some employees couldn’t make it in to the offices even when they opened back up. Employees gathered for a lunch meeting of sharing (lunch provided by the organization) when the offices reopened.
The American Montessori Society had communications with their overall community (Montessori schools and teacher education programs) to let them know that whether they were members of AMS or not, if they suffered damage in the storm, AMS would connect them with those who were able to offer help.
AMS has a blog on their Web site where folks can post information about how their children/communities have coped or are offering assistance, and even “just” thoughts and ruminations, on what went on. The community at large is also invited to share feedback on relevant resources (e.g., talking to children about disasters).
For business continuity, AMS posted messages (updated daily) to their Web site while they were closed. They also posted messages to shared electronic bulletin boards unaffected by the storm and to their Facebook page. Upon reopening they had communications that made it clear they were resuming business as usual.
To improve preparedness they will ensure that they have up-to-date contact lists for all employees and that several senior leaders have this information at home (that is, not only on work computers). They will also be more proactive about printing out work, and emailing work to their personal email addresses, if it seems a crippling storm might hit.
AMERICAN PEDIATRICS ASSOCIATION GUIDE FOR CHILDREN IN DISASTERS
BANK STREET COLLEGE OF EDUCATION
The mission of Bank Street College is to improve the education of children and their teachers by applying to the education process all available knowledge about learning and growth, and by connecting teaching and learning meaningfully to the outside world. In so doing, they seek to strengthen not only individuals, but the community as well, including family, school, and the larger society in which adults and children, in all their diversity, interact and learn. Bank Street sees in education the opportunity to build a better society.
Here are Bank Street’s helpful tips about talking to kids about Hurricane Sandy: http://bankstreet.edu/campus-beyond/news/2012/11/06/talking-to-kids-about-hurricane-sandy/. In addition, Bank Street Child Life students, alumni, and colleagues joined hands with art therapists on Sunday, November 4, 2012, to answer a request for help by a U.S. Navy mental health team deployed at a New York City shelter set up to serve families displaced by Hurricane Sandy: http://bankstreet.edu/campus-beyond/news/2012/11/08/bank-streeters-lend-aid-in-city-shelter/.
Bloomberg was moderately affected by the storm. Their headquarters on 58th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan were fine and did not lose power. However, their New Jersey and Washington DC offices had to close. The doors of their data center in downtown Manhattan were blown out due to wind and water damage.
They have provided significant support to employees and their families and communities - everything from messaging, to volunteer efforts, to covering the cost of employees getting to work in the initial aftermath, to allowing people to work from home for a longer duration or in other local offices.
In terms of business continuation, Bloomberg advised employees on different options to connect, provided shuttle buses to help employees travel into Manhattan, and relied on their global organization to back up work needs (mostly Asia and EMEA).
They are currently in discussion about preparedness for future events, although all things considered, they fared pretty well.
CLIO STRATEGIES LLC
Josh Sawislak at Clio Strategies writes about distributed work (telework) and emergency management issues and forwarded two recent pieces that are disaster focussed. Mr. Sawislak’s main audience is government employees and agencies but he feels the concepts are the same whether in government or business.
He also suggested a toolbox called Ready Rating developed by the Red Cross that companies can use to measure and improve their resilience. More information can be found at: http://readyrating.org
THE COMMONWEALTH FUND
The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation working toward a high performance health system. Its offices were closed for 4 days (in keeping with New York City public school closings) during and after the storm but a number of employees did venture in during that time.
They made accommodations for all staff members affected by the storm. This was primarily due to difficulties commuting. Fortunately they have a very solid online remote server so employees were able to work from home if they had power and Internet access. They also made funds available for additional matching gifts for staff who were donating to hurricane relief efforts.
They feel that their business continuity arrangements were already good before the storm, but they are continuing to look at other options for improving upon their current situation.
To improve their preparedness, they are now considering placing more of their systems in the cloud to further protect their data from the vagaries of local weather.
Flex work made it possible for employees to work from home during the storm and for days afterwards and they have continued to encourage flex time for commuting difficulties since then.
COMMUNITY SERVICES FOR CHILDREN
An employee who works for Community Services for Children wrote to say that the first two weeks after the storms were very challenging in terms of work. She and her family were without power for 6 days and had storm damage to their home. Their 19 month old granddaughter lives with them and her health and safety were the priority. Each evening the family was scattered to family or friend’s homes.
Her supervisor encouraged her to leave work early to get the family settled before dark each night. Colleagues brought in lunch for those affected by power and light outages and shared flashlights and snacks for family members.
Although this family thought they were prepared for the storm they found out that after three days without power, and with temperatures dropping, their home was not a safe place for their granddaughter.
They learned that they had taken having a warm, safe and inviting home, clean clothes and a warm shower for granted. During this experience their home became a dark cold place – that was not protecting them from the elements. Their daughter said it felt like they were forgotten …and they only had to endure this for a week.
A leading premium drinks company, Diageo’s in Norwalk and their NY/NJ offices were affected. Prior to the storm they instructed all employees to take their laptops home. The company has an emergency call line and emergency contact call service where an automated service calls the employees’ home and cell phone numbers when the office is going to close- which it did on the Monday and Tuesday of the storm week. Employees were also asked to listen to the radio on the local stations for information about closures.
The weekend after the storm, Diageo kept their offices open and their cafeteria served breakfast, lunch and dinner to employees and their families. Their gym was also open and available to employees who needed to take warm showers. There were games and TVs for the children, as well. The company provided subsidized funds for those who needed hotels or temporary housing because they were displaced. The employees started a coat drive and have collected over 200 coats for affected employees and others. Many spouses and children who were also unable to make it to work or school came into the Diageo offices and worked for the remainder of the week using the company’s Wi-Fi.
In terms of business continuation, Diageo has a very flexible culture normally, so most people worked remotely either through laptop or blackberry.
Diageo believes that their disaster relief plans are quite robust and effective. They highly encourage employees to make their own personal decisions on their safety and that of their family members in determining if they need to come into the office or if they should leave early in inclement weather.
Debra Schafer, Founder/CEO & President of Education Navigation, Inc. which focuses on working parents and their special needs children, wrote that Lisa Belkin had written a column about the impact of Sandy on special needs children.
Ms Schafer noted that for children on the autism spectrum, the hurricane alone was significant but their parents also had to navigate through their children's return to school along with working through the many issues that emerged related to the supports and services their children did without during the storms.
GENERAL MOTORS COMPANY
As Superstorm Sandy bore down on the northeastern United States, General Motors’ New York City employees rallied to help the company meet significant business deadlines. Workers at GM’s Treasurer's Office (GMTO) and Asset Management (GMAM) offices in Mid-town Manhattan were among the millions impacted by the storm. Despite numerous obstacles and setbacks, these dedicated employees helped maintain daily cash and trading operations and pension funding for the company, as well as close the historic Prudential pension transaction, finalize GM’s quarterly earnings announcement and complete the new $11 billion revolving credit facility.
News that Hurricane Sandy would make its way up the east coast of the United States put the New York office on alert. As predictions of the storm’s landfall solidified, business continuity plans (BCP) were put into action. These plans called for assessing the safety and availability of key operational employees and executing alternative work plans, including backup sites and laptop connectivity. Once employee safety was assured and all employees were accounted for, the team worked tirelessly to help meet each of the week’s important deadlines.
To help ensure the Prudential pension and revolving credit facility transactions would close on time, some of the GMAM and GMTO employees chose to fight the conditions and come into Manhattan (a few after braving 30 flights of stairs with no elevator service in their buildings) to work in the office. With travel in the region severely hampered, some faced three hour commutes or walked several miles to reach the office.
As part of the business continuity plan, other employees worked from home or from an alternate site. “We asked four team members to work from a facility in Carlstadt, New Jersey,” said Jason Glass, vice president, Operations at GMAM. “We reserved hotel rooms for the team near the Carlstadt office, but were told a levee broke and the streets between that office and the hotel were flooded, making travel conditions unsafe. The team remained in the facility overnight and slept where they could. Conditions improved the following day, allowing the team to travel safely home.” The work continued through the day and night to help meet each announcement deadline.
Throughout the storm, in addition to the extra work from Q3 earnings, and the Prudential pension and credit revolver transactions, GMTO maintained the company’s ability to handle its 1.5 million average weekly transactions (worth more than $10 billion in notional value) without disruption. GMAM maintained its ability to make regular pension investments and $700 million of funding for monthly pension payments that were still provided that week.
Although each situation is evaluated on a case-by-base basis, GM has outlined employee support considerations in the event of a Federally declared disaster. Those considerations include:
- Housing Assistance
- Financial Assistance
- Paid time-off
- Work-related travel vehicles
- Employee Assistance Programs and services that extend to family members (e.g., coping with stress, crisis intervention, caregiver support, etc.)
GLOBAL GREEN USA
Matt Petersen, President and CEO of Global Green, a not for profit focusing on sustainability in American coastal areas, wrote that they are reaching out to solar manufacturers to donate solar PV panels and components to create a "Solar for Sandy" initiative to help in the rebuilding.
A little over a year ago, Global Green launched the I AM Campaign at the end of Manhattan island in Battery Park. People were encouraged to take photographs of themselves holding a sign reading “I AM NEW YORK" to send a signal that all people are connected and need to be concerned with what happens to communities facing sea level rise as a result of climate change. At the spot where they stood a year ago, 12 to 14 foot storm surge inundated Lower Manhattan with Sandy, and they feel the message of their PSA campaign is now more poignant and important than ever. 150 million Americans live in or near coastal cities.
Mr. Petersen asks that you join him in posting on Global Green's Facebook page a photo of yourself holding a sign saying "I AM New York" or "I AM New Jersey," tweet the photo along with the hashtag #IAMNY or #IAMNJ, or upload it at globalgreen.org/IAM. Global Green will continue their work to protect coastal cities, and find ways to rebuild after Sandy.
Healthpoint Biotherapeutics, wound care specialists, has some employees in NJ and NY who were badly impacted by Sandy. They were allowed lots of extra time off. Some employees were put up in hotels and all could work from home or from the hotels. The company intends to allow affected employees’ team members to help them clean up--as a team building experience.
An employee at Hilton sent a link that shows a video of hotels on Staten Island and their response to the Hurricane. This is a part of the larger effort but hopefully gives some take-aways that can be replicated in other organizations.
L & S ASSOCIATES, INC.
L & S Associates helps hospitals, health plans, and insurers find health and income benefits for their clients, particularly those based on disability. Their corporate headquarters was delayed in sending/receiving emails along with having to re-enter payroll data in order for their employees to have their timesheets complete.
Their employees have been raising funds to send items to organizations that are distributing needed goods to those affected by the storm.
Relative to business continuation, many employees were already set up to work remotely from their homes so they were able to provide support, although on a limited basis, for their department areas of responsibility. Their employees in Ohio who were impacted by the storm were paid for the two days that they were not in the office.
JOHNSON & JOHNSON
So far, Johnson & Johnson has committed more than 5 million dollars in product and financial support to relief efforts. And, they are putting additional resources and processes in place to quickly funnel aid to those most affected by the storm.
The company’s key partners in these efforts are AmeriCares, Catholic Medical Mission Board, Direct Relief International, Heart to Heart International, Inc., MAP International, and Save the Children. A few of the Johnson & Johnson supported relief programs include:
- AmeriCares has a fully–equipped mobile clinic that is traveling to the hardest hit areas in New Jersey and New York. The aid organization is also distributing Johnson & Johnson hygiene kits stocked with soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and other personal care items to emergency shelters and aid distribution centers.
- Johnson’s®Baby “Care kits” filled with hygiene essentials are being distributed by Save the Children to the New Jersey and New York areas.
- Employees are engaged in the relief efforts through “Click to Care,” the Johnson & Johnson employee giving program in which donations to their disaster relief partners and many other community organizations are matched on a two-to-one basis.
- The company is also working with the American Red Cross (ARC) on a program that would allow J&J employees to donate to the relief efforts and ARC programs that would be earmarked for community and capacity building around disaster preparedness in New Jersey. J&J is matching employee donations on a one-to-one basis.
The Johnson & Johnson New Jersey and Pennsylvania facilities staffs have volunteered in the communities where they live and work.
For example, in the areas surrounding the Corporate headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the company has provided fuel to the police and emergency services, and generators and diesel fuel to local municipalities; prepared food for first responders; sent company store goods to the local shelter, and dispatched a fire truck from one of their sites to a New York City hospital to pump out water.
Employees throughout North America have been working to ensure that J & J customers have the products they need. In distribution centers and the field, Johnson & Johnson employees have worked to supply hospitals, pharmacies and retailers with what their patients and customers need.
They continue to assess potential customer needs for all of their products -- medicines, medical devices, consumer healthcare, first aid, etc. -- and address contingencies to ensure that customers and patient needs are being met in the affected areas and across their global supply chain.
At this point, J & J has not experienced any supply interruptions and their medical products continue to flow to the customers, patients and health care facilities that need them.
Disaster Assistance for Employees
J & J continues to communicate regularly with their employees, and has set up a Hurricane Hotline for those in need of shelter, food or clothing, or in urgent need of information or resources. They are also providing them with resources and information about how the company, government and other agencies can assist them in their time of need.
The safety and security of their employees and their families is their highest priority. Although all of their NJ and PA facilities re-opened on Monday, November 5th they asked employees to consider all factors, such as access to gasoline and road closures, as they made their decisions to travel, work from home or to deal with their personal situations.
As the damage continues to be assessed across the region, J & J will evaluate other ways they can help provide for the healthcare needs of affected communities.
Even before Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent Nor’easter storm hit the East Coast in late October and early November, KPMG was preparing for the worst. Training sessions scheduled for New York City on October 29 and 30 were cancelled, and offices in the path of the storm considered options to ensure the safety of partners and employees.
The day before the storm arrived on Monday October 29, the decision was made to close 15 offices that anticipated severe weather and the possibility of power outages. That decision turned out to be a good one: All 15 offices lost power, most for two days, and one (Short Hills, NJ) for nearly a week. KPMG was among the thousands of businesses in the affected area that had to deal with an unprecedented loss in productivity, property damage, and employees who were in crisis mode.
Their employees and partners were among the thousands who lost power, and in many cases suffered damage to their homes (and for some, a total loss). Roads were impassible in many places, gasoline was in short supply, and the combination of all these factors made it difficult, if not impossible, for large numbers of employees to get to work, or even to work remotely. Even after power was restored to most of the offices, the hardships continued, with a large number of people returning to dark, cold homes for days and even weeks. And with schools closed and working spouses facing the same difficulties, KPMG knew that they had to act quickly to help their people get through a very demanding time in their lives.
How have you supported those who have been affected by the storm—your employees, their families and communities?
Before the storm had even left the area, KPMG leadership addressed the problem of how to help through their Disaster Relief Fund (DRF). Launched in 1992, the DRF provides short-term, interest-free loans to KPMG employees experiencing an immediate financial need and/or permanent financial loss resulting from a natural disaster. Funds were also disbursed to nonprofit relief agencies working in affected areas. KPMG partners and employees contribute to the fund, and their donations are matched by the firm. In anticipation of the storm’s projected damage, KPMG doubled the firm match to $300,000. So far, more than $165,000 has been donated to the fund by partners and employees.
Knowing that people might need extra time to cope with the disaster, KPMG allowed all employees to take up to 16 hours of paid time off in addition to what they already had, in order to deal with storm-related personal issues. They also put out a call for people to participate in their Emergency Shared Leave program, which was developed to allow employees to donate accrued Paid Time Off to fellow employees who were personally and directly impacted by the storm, and unable to work including because of unavailable power and means of transportation.
Those who supervise others were directed to a new web page that provided resources for helping employees deal with a natural disaster. Advice was provided to guide managers through the sometimes difficult conversations with people who experienced loss due to the storm.
Once the storm had passed, many of the firm’s people were left without electrical power, and schools across the region remained closed. So the Office Managing Partners in the affected areas took steps to help in ways such as:
- Opening the offices all weekend to provide employees and their families a warm place to relax, charge their electronics, enjoy a hot meal, and spend some stress-free time together.
- Providing access to shower facilities at local spas, gyms, and even high schools, so employees and their family could take hot showers.
- Setting up on-site childcare and offering playrooms and entertainment for employees’ children so their parents could run errands or attend to their clients. The children enjoyed pizza lunches, Disney movies, and fun games and other kid-friendly activities, courtesy of KPMG.
- Offering “trick or treating” time for the kids in offices where Sandy forced towns to cancel Halloween festivities.
The spirit of volunteerism has always been strong among the people of KPMG. Many offered to help those whose lives had been disrupted. Individuals organized clean-up trips to Staten Island and other locations, where volunteers spent time helping to clean out flooded houses and tear out ruined wallboard, among other duties. KPMG created a volunteer registration site, so their people could be notified when future storm-related volunteer opportunities arose.
Many people impacted by the storm had specific needs that couldn’t be met by the firm. So they relied on the generosity of their employees, and established an exchange site. People are able to go to the site and input requests for things like portable generators, housing rentals, etc. Requests from the site were posted in prominent areas around the offices, so that other employees might be able to provide what was needed. In one case, the executive director of Firmwide Security allowed an employee and her family who were displaced by the storm to use his apartment while he was out of town for an extended period.
These are only a few of the ways the firm has been assisting their people, and the response from partners and employees—both those who were impacted directly by the storm, and those who were not—has been overwhelmingly positive:
- We were told it would be 14 days before our power was back. I brought my children to the playroom on Friday – and it was the happiest they had been all week.
- KPMG is doing everything they can for those that need it…. I feel very proud to be part of the KPMG family.
- I am so happy that I work here…from allowing kids here and putting together a game room and the cafeteria offering meals to go, open during the weekend, etc….Just wanted to say thank you!!!
What have you done for business continuation when your employees, facilities, and operations have been affected?
When the decision was made to close the offices, people were encouraged to try to work from home. But with widespread power outages, that was impossible for many. Employees and partners were encouraged to take advantage of “hoteling,” temporarily working out of another nearby KPMG office.
During the emergency, KPMG utilized multiple mechanisms, including email and voice mail, to keep people informed as to the status of the offices and their options for working. Updates were sent out on an almost-daily basis, and many employees expressed their appreciation for the constant stream of information they received.
Several offices utilized KPMG’s Emergency Check-In system, which asks employees and partners to call a number or visit a website to let the firm know that they’re OK.
Because of the gasoline shortage, a car pool site was created, so employees could find people in their area who would be interested in sharing a ride to and from work.
How are you planning to improve your preparedness for future events of this kind?
KPMG has in place a national Crisis Management Team, with representatives in every office. After every major event, a post-mortem is conducted to discover ways that they can improve their response going forward. Hurricane Sandy provided KPMG with an opportunity to fine-tune their systems, and continue to improve.
LINDE NORTH AMERICA, INC
Linde supplies industrial gases and their entire East coast business was affected by the storm. While facilities were not directly impacted, the local areas were greatly compromised by extreme power outages, road closures, closed businesses and vendors, vendor deliveries and school closures.
The inability to cross closed roads and/or obtain gas on certain days were by far the most challenging, coupled with inability to communicate with employees initially due to the damage to various communication infrastructure across the state. They fortunately did not have any employees who suffered major injury or lost their homes, but many employees suffered some type of property damage.
The company has been extremely supportive of its employees, their safety, and that of their families. Their first priority was safety, which was demonstrated as they took precautions on day one of the storm by limiting customer facing facilities to essential personnel only and closing other major NJ facilities.
Additionally, due to the extent of loss of power, heat, and/or school closures, employees were permitted to bring their children to work with parent supervision. They offered a common area where children could color, watch TV, read and play their video games.
The weekends of the storm, employees without heat or power were also invited to use the office facilities. Entertainment for children has been made available in the form of movies, and cartoons.
They also expanded alternative work arrangements in an effort to manage the gas shortage issues, road closures, and/or child care issues with employees telecommuting where possible, compressing the work week, and departments utilizing essential personnel models where feasible. Their local United Way chapters have also been made available for charitable contributions, which are matched dollar for dollar by the company. The availability of their employee assistance program, Lifeworks, and all of its offerings for managing and recovering from the storm was offered to employees.
The company has two major facilities that are about 30 miles apart and can back each other up in the event operations are disrupted. These disaster recovery plans were in place. Employees can also connect to the corporate network and access all company resources from home via their VPN where there was not interrupted power or internet loss. The company has been issuing Resource Bulletins to inform employees of helpful websites that identify various kinds of critical resources like open gas stations, utility company resources, etc.
In terms of future preparedness, as a result of this storm, Linde has been discussing the use of social media as a real time feed of information to employees.
MOTHERS & MORE
Mothers & More, a national volunteer-driven “Mom’s Group” organization, has had several chapters that were directly affected by the storm, including their largest chapter in the Maplewood, NJ area (over 500 members). Many members had damage to their homes, places of business or both, and are still dealing with the after effects.
Many Mothers & More chapters have done and are continuing to run fundraisers and donation drives to get resources to those in need. Not just chapter members, but other citizens of the hard hit areas will be receiving donations.
To improve preparedness, Mothers & More is building a better network so that they can react more quickly with aid in the future. They are working to coordinate chapter response in terms of local resources, and to distribute information for those who would like to participate in relief efforts. They plan to continue to reach out to members and to connect them with resources in their area as needed.
PathWays PA a non profit organization providing residential services to women and children in Delaware and Philadelphia County, lost power for four days and all of the food at their Center for Families, which houses 50 women and children. Two days of work were lost and the power/server in their offices was down for 1 ½ days. They were on alert ensuring that all of their residential and other families and teens were alright through calls and texts (as some phones were not working due to the lack of electricity.) Through their blog and newsletter they let everyone know how they could help. Many employees lost power and heat at home.
They paid employees for the two days they were closed. Some employees worked as much as they could from home. PathWays advised other nonprofits who asked that they should do the same.
THE FRED ROGERS COMPANY
The Fred Rogers Company provided a link to their article about helping children deal with Hurricane Sandy
Nearly 10,000 of PwC’s people were directly impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The storm affected over 15 of their offices, causing closures and limiting operations. Offices hardest hit were those in the New York Metro area. In addition, travel difficulties affected employees in many other areas. All of the offices have reopened. However, some of their people are still without power and facing substantial challenges.
How have you supported those who have been affected by the storm—your employees, their families and communities?
The PwC Charitable Foundation is responding to the needs of their people with immediate emergency lodging payouts of up to $2,500 through the People Who Care Fund via a streamlined survey process. Since the storm hit, the Foundation has granted funds to over 250 of their employees in need, with more in process to receive funds. The Foundation continues to provide hardship grants to their people experiencing more significant, longer-term issues, such as property damage. The firm’s partners have pledged an additional $1 million to replenish the PwC Foundation so it is well-funded to assist PwC people impacted by hardships related to Sandy or future events, and many of their people have generously donated to the Fund in the annual Giving Campaign. In addition, the PwC Foundation is donating $500,000 to local relief organizations (including the United Way, NY/NJ Cares, Salvation Army, and Catholic Charities) in the most severely impacted communities.
In support of their communities, PwC partners will also give another $1 million to the Red Cross. Nationwide, offices are fundraising and organizing coat, food, blood and other “drives.” They are also working with nonprofit partners to determine how best to leverage their core competencies once the initial disaster relief efforts are complete.
PwC also made available the following resources to its partners and staff:
- Access to a newly built database for partners and staff to request or offer help with accommodations, car-pooling, generators, etc.
- Assistance through their travel department in finding available hotel rooms for both short and long-term stays
- Access to shower facilities at local gyms by showing a PwC employee ID
- Bus transportation from their severely impacted Florham Park office to their 300 Madison office
- Partners and staff were encouraged to work from home as needed
- PwC also made available conference rooms for clients displaced by the storm
What have you done for business continuation when your employees, facilities and operations have been affected?
To continue operations, PwC's National Crisis Assessment Team monitored the storm, prepared for its arrival, and communicated with their people via email and intranet throughout. They encouraged preparatory steps like:
- "Please take your laptop home with you in the event you will need to work from home on Monday or Tuesday.
- Secure all confidential information in a locked filing cabinet or with the Records Center before departing from the office.
- Plan to check your email and voicemail on Sunday evening to learn the status of the office and other guidance from the crisis teams; PwC Facebook & Twitter accounts will also post office closings.
- If you have travel plans on Monday or Tuesday, please monitor your flight status and work with your coach or event planners when considering flight changes to avoid the storm.
- Your safety is our primary concern and we would encourage you to monitor local weather reports. Please take precautions at home, and if possible, limit your travel over the weekend."
As expected, the firm experienced disruptions and has responded by encouraging use of their "lost time" code (for reporting hours employees cannot work), telecommuting, and flexibility. Many deadlines have been relaxed or extended.
How are you planning to improve your preparedness for future events of this kind?
US Security manages a 24x7 Emergency Hotline available to all of PwC’s partners and staff. The team responds to calls dealing with everything from travel disruptions to locating relatives during national or even international disasters. In addition to this service, US Security is the first responder to significant events impacting their US partners and staff, in both domestic and international locations.
US Security leads a national Crisis Assessment Team (CAT) of senior PwC leaders in critical functions and, depending on the severity of the event, they sometimes escalate the situation by assembling this team for a comprehensive response effort. In addition, the team maintains a pandemic plan to manage both preventative and response actions. Business continuity plans document response strategies, plans, protocols, and requirements across the US. These plans are tested and evaluated on a regular basis and focus on timely support. The number one priority with all of these plans and response efforts is the well being of PwC’s partners and staff. Determining their safety is paramount to US Security and the CAT.
Prudential http://www.prudential.com/view/page/public is committed to helping their employees and communities recover from the effects of Sandy and the nor’easter. They have increased their communications and rallied resources.
On the day after the storm, John Strangfeld, Chairman and CEO, addressed Prudential employees in their company e-newsletter highlighting the company’s commitments. In that letter he encouraged employees to work with their supervisors to balance family and work needs at this unprecedented time, to prioritize their and their loved ones' safety and to make use of the resources available to them. Those resources include:
Response in the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy
TO SUPPORT EMPLOYEES:
- Emergency Cash Advance Program
Prudential made available a cash advance for employees who were affected by Hurricane Sandy to offset the cost of property damage not covered by insurance. A portion of that may be forgiven per program guidelines.
- Prudential CARES Associate Relief Fund
This fund provides reimbursement up to a pre-determined amount to eligible affected employees to help them recover losses for items such as food and clothing.
- Open Employee and Family Access to Fitness Bath Facilities
Prudential’s numerous on-site fitness centers’ showers and bathrooms were opened to all affected employees and their family members. Access is normally restricted to employees with center membership only.
- Cafeteria Take Home Meals for 70% Discount
Prudential cafeterias began offering take home meals for pre-order at a 70% discount. This was and is still being very well utilized.
- A Comprehensive and "Living" List of Resources Created and Made Available
The company’s Global Security team in partnership with their Community Resources Department and Health and Wellness team compiled important information about resources available to employees to support their recovery efforts and promote safety at this time. The material is updated as new resources become available and is organized into the following categories:
- critical recovery information (including links to food stores and gas stations),
- transportation updates and advisories,
- power company updates for affected States and contact information,
- household safety tips and family resources including power,
- food and water safety,
- Prudential back-up child and adult care resources,
- counseling and support services, etc.,
- The American Red Cross shelters,
- insurance claim filing and contact information,
- mobile claim filing locations for numerous carriers, and
- additional information for local and state resources.
TO SUPPORT PRUDENTIAL COMMUNITIES:
Prudential employees who wanted to help those in need were provided with a number of options:
- Prudential CARES Associate Relief Fund
Employees can contribute to the fund for affected associates who lost clothing, food or ther essential items. The Prudential Foundation matches employee contributions on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
- Prudential CARES Disaster Relief Fund
Employees can contribute to this fund, which is providing donations to relief and local agencies providing support for Hurricane Sandy victims in the hardest-hit communities, particularly in New Jersey and New York. Prudential matches employees' contributions.
- The Prudential Foundation Matching Gifts Program
Prudential will match employees’ direct, personal contributions to other non-profit organizations delivering relief efforts and services in the communities affected by the hurricane.
- Volunteering with non-profit organizations and helping those affected
Employees can also contribute by participating in food drives or other activities to help organizations providing aid to victims in affected communities. Prudential has provided a list of organizations and contact information.
TO CONTINUE BUSINESS/A NOTE ON FLEXIBILITY:
Prudential’s business continuation plans provide for a number of options to assist employees in getting back to work which include telecommuting from home and alternate work sites which are pre-set to accommodate visiting employees and/or can be quickly converted to do so. These options were successfully deployed in the aftermath of the storm and, as needed, are continuing.
The CEO of Ryan, a leading tax services firm, sent a letter world-wide to solicit support for their employees on the East Coast who suffered loss through their Employee Assistance Fund.
The company ensured that all non-exempts on the East Coast who lost time due to Sandy were made whole through additional PTO, so that they don’t have to utilize their existing PTO banks. Exempt staff have unlimited time off so didn’t need this assistance.
Ryan always supports the Red Cross, through casual dress days, and by sharing their updates and needs, and opportunities to donate with employees through texting.
Because Ryan already has a completely flexible work environment, allowing employees to work anywhere, anytime, as long as they meet objectives, they equip everyone with laptops, remote access, WebEx access, and conference dial-in access. As a result, when power is available, Ryan employees can function without coming to the office. During Sandy all of their team across the U.S. was poised to assist those on the East Coast with any help they needed covering work and deliverables.
In terms of preparedness, Ryan has a Disaster Recovery/Business Resumption plan already in place which allows for redundancy and off-site storage of back-ups of their system. This situation with Sandy, though, brought home the need to give additional attention to fine-tuning some of their communication protocols, and is a priority for 2013.
Saks Incorporated had 30 locations impacted by the storm in some form. Eleven Saks Fifth Avenue stores were closed between one and seven days, and 15 Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH stores were closed for up to five days. In addition, their primary distribution facility in Maryland and three of their corporate office locations in NYC were closed for several days.
Saks provided for flexible work arrangements allowing those impacted to work from home if needed and arranged for pay continuation during the week of the storm, and they adjusted open and close times for their NY Flagship Store for associates to commute. They also provided routine updated communications via their Associate Information Line and their internal communication vehicles around closings, local news, and relief efforts. Saks made a meaningful donation to their internal Associate Relief Fund and is matching associate donations to the Fund. They also made a donation to the American Red Cross.
For business continuation, Saks has provided flexible work arrangements, delayed openings and/or opened with limited staffs, and provided meals during the flexible schedules.
In terms of preparedness, Saks had a Business Continuity Plan in place and executed to the Plan. They we will review all procedures relative to Plan, as well as their associate relief and outreach processes, to determine if changes should be made for the future.
Solix serve public and private sector customers seeking an outsourcing partner experienced in designing, implementing and managing qualification programs. As the storm approached, Solix took the steps they thought necessary to continue business operations with minimal interruption including ensuring that their emergency generator was topped off with gas and ready for service, their remote systems access capabilities were ready for record numbers of people trying to access remotely and they had the means to be in contact with employees throughout the week.
On Monday October 29, Solix offices remained open and operated as close to “business as usual” as possible with over 250 employees (out of 450 NJ employees) accessing their systems remotely. In the aftermath of the storm, about 60 people made it into the office while others worked from home (provided they had electricity and internet access) or from other locations (family members’ homes). They lost power at the Solix building, but the emergency generator kicked in and powered their major systems. The end of the week saw most people return to the office, while some were still unable to leave their homes or neighborhoods due to downed trees and power lines on or near their property. They estimate that at least 80% of Solix employees lost power for at least 48 hours, while the majority were still without service through November 5th.
While the storm and power outages made it difficult for many people to get to the Solix offices, the company’s work for their customers never stopped. In fact, they met or exceeded all of their customer requirements for the period.
Some examples of Solix employee efforts during the week:
- There were Solix employees who came to the office even though their homes were damaged.
- Reviewers used their personal cell phones to call applicants (Solix’s phone system was down for a couple of days).
- Reviewers who could not make it to the office went to relatives’, friends’ or coworkers’ homes to use their internet access so they could process applications.
- Some employees went to public libraries to use their internet access to log into secure SLD systems.
- People were on conference calls while waiting in line for gas (gas stations had long lines due to some stations being closed due to the power outage).
While the storm was devastating for many parts of New Jersey and for some Solix employees, the employees never lost sight of their commitment and responsibilities to customers and, in fact, some have initiated efforts to provide aid to people in locations that suffered the worse damage.
“For companies who are still wondering why they should provide a flexible work place for their employees, this should be a pretty good example!” said John Parry, CEO.
TEACHING STRATEGIES, LLC AND BRIGHT HORIZONS FOUNDATION
Below please find the link to a website that was recently set up to allow people/organizations to make a donation to help early childhood programs that were affected by Hurricane Sandy. Teaching Strategies is doing this in partnership with the Bright Horizons Foundation and both organizations will match all contributions to the fund, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000 for a total of $50,000. http://www.brighthorizonsfoundation.org/sandychildrensfund
TECHNOLOGY ON PREMISES
Technology on Premises, a full-service information technology and managed services providers in the New York Metropolitan area, shared some of the lessons they have learned from their clients who were able to continue their operations throughout Sandy in terms of planning and responding to future disasters:
Staying in Touch with your Employees
- One of their clients kept business going and worked productively by using WhereRU, a custom web application that runs inside SharePoint. This made it easy for the employees to report their circumstances to management.
- It helps to have more than one email address and phone number on file so you are able to contact your employees in case of emergency and update them on the status of your firm.
Communicating with your Clients
- Updating a firm’s public website can help manage a firm’s clients’ expectations during a disaster. One clients lost access to its offices, but when they attempted to announce it on their website, they couldn’t find the password for the site’s administrative access. The lesson is to assure that credentials and passwords are safe but accessible to appropriate parties.
- Microsoft Lync proved to be a valuable resource for working and communicating remotely. Many employees used Lync to make and receive phone calls and messages from their laptops. This kept communications open, with both clients and team members, almost as though they were still in the office.
Maintaining your Client Services
- Clients saw the importance of using remote access tools with enough capacity. Setting up a remote server at a co-location can provide immediate access to your data and files for people who are forced to work from home. Cloud backup and business continuity services were especially useful for providing redundant email systems, while keeping all client services safe, available, and away from storm damage.
- Many clients kept their data and servers safe with redundant data centers in co-location facilities in the event their primary sites went offline.
UNITED TECHNOLOGIES (UTC)
United Technologies Corp., a diversified company providing high technology products and services to the building and aerospace industries based in Hartford, Connecticut, announced contributions with a total value in excess of $500,000 to support relief and recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. UTC is making a $300,000 financial donation to the American Red Cross and the company also will match employee contributions to that organization. These donations will support direct and immediate relief to those affected by the hurricane.
Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of UTC, offered free helicopter transport services for disaster relief personnel in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. The aircraft and crew joined other volunteer flight teams and worked under the direction of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council. Each airlifted supplies to Staten Island University Hospital in New York, which distributed them to local families impacted by “super storm” Sandy. The helicopters ferried bottled water, snacks, juice, formula, diapers, toilet paper, paper towels, duct tape, plastic totes and storage bins, contractor bags, work gloves, first aid kits, latex and non-latex gloves, flashlights, batteries and other items in short supply. New York Police Department trucks delivered the bulk of the supplies to the Father Capodanno Boulevard area of Staten Island.
In addition, UTC Climate, Controls & Security delivered 10,000 Kidde carbon monoxide alarms to the New York Fire Department and 5,000 to the New Jersey Fire Marshal. As a result of the ‘super storm’ and extensive power outages, there have been increased reports of carbon monoxide emergencies.
For more information, please visit: United Technologies Supports Hurricane Sandy Recovery Efforts; Provides Free Helicopter Services (November 13) and Sikorsky Aircraft Delivers Supplies to Staten Island, Victims of Hurricane Sandy (November 7).
Verizon Wireless worked around the clock to restore network coverage in the affected areas and continues to focus its efforts to assist customers in the regions hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy.
They announced November 4th that customers in portions of New York and New Jersey will not be billed usage charges for domestic voice and text usage incurred between October 29th and November 16th 2012. No action is required by customers to be eligible for this program.
Verizon Wireless also continues to assist recovery efforts in the Northeastern United States in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy by:
- deploying Mobile Wireless Emergency Communications Center (WECC) trailers in hardest hit areas
- supporting public safety agencies with additional wireless communication devices
- opening device charging stations in impacted areas
- offering device charging and free domestic calling at its open retail locations
- match customer text-to-donate contributions to American Red Cross relief efforts up to one million dollars
- suspending late fees during the storm recovery period.
VisionLink provided the public with a situational Sandy map that displayed real-time information on open Red Cross shelters, storm path projections, power outages, traffic routes, and twitter conversations. Community members and organizations were able to use this information to plan for evacuation routes and stay up to date on different relief resources and services in their communities. VisionLink also helped disaster relief organizations, such as NVOAD, Red Cross and the Coordinated Assistance Network, by providing extra technical assistance as well as shelter organizing and family connecting services after people were separated from loved ones.