How are New York agencies coping in the wake of Superstorm Sandy?

New Yorkers attempting to save their block from damage

Superstorm Sandy has hit New York and the East Coast of America, leaving in its wake Billions of dollars of damage to homes and offices across numerous states. The Drum spoke to some marketing agencies in the city to find out the impact that one of the worst storms in US history had had on them and how they were adjusting.

Over the last 48 hours, companies have been forced to close their offices, with transportation at a standstill across New York due to heavy flooding in the subway system and the petrol stations literally powerless due to an electricity blackout that could last up to a week, leaving much of the city in darkness.

The Drum understands that the New York offices of BBDO were closed over the last couple of days, while many other agencies were also proving difficult to get hold of, with some resorting to communicating through social media with each other through the use of smartphone and tablet devices.

Speaking to Andrew Deitchman, a partner at Mother New York, he explained that the office had been closed for two days, but that they had managed to avoid sustaining any damage, and that many people without power had sought refuge within the agency, which did have power, a coffee maker and food.

“I wouldn’t say we’re fully operational today but the home that is Mother is well populated right now with people sorting out their lives,” added Deitchman.

Like Mother, digital company HUGE, based in DUMBO Brooklyn had also been closed for two days, with staff able to work from home, well those that had power and internet access could at any rate.

Eric Moore, managing director of Huge New York, told The Drum; “We had one server outage but we have backup for everything so we still have email and access to our servers which have all the projects and client data. We are able to continue work.”

Moore continued to explain that with the transport system down, even when access to the office does become achievable, potentially at some stage later today, staff are still unlikely to be able to reach work unless they live close by, due to the lack of available transport and the number of roads that are still close.

“It’ll have some effect but I don’t anticipate it’ll be that big an affect because people are still able to work on their clients briefs remotely,” he added. “The next couple of days will tell a lot. A lot of it comes down to how quickly the city and the power company can return service to a lot of the areas in Manhattan. Certainly there will be some interruption as our clients also in many cases can’t get to work as well.”

He also states that while Huge has been affected, so has its clients, which has meant postponing meetings until at least later in the week, if convenient, but points out that everyone has been impacted in some shape or form.

Nigel Vaz, senior vice president of SapientNitro, added that the agency's three offices in the East coast were also closed, but that they were also still operational.

"We’re a global company, with established crisis management and disaster recovery process. Perhaps more importantly than that, we’ve got a talented, committed and flexible workforce that are able to switch to remote working seamlessly. Our first priority is to keep our people safe, and theirs is to go the extra distance to meet project demands and client needs," stated Vaz.

He added that while the New York offices would remain closed today, the SapientNitro offices in Arlington and Boston would begin to open again after a couple of days.

Deitchman was also positive about the progress of getting the operation back up and running quickly: “There is a lot of virtual work going on right now. Everybody still seems to be pretty connected to email…it’s not bad. I think we’ll be back up tomorrow for good. There is still a question about transit how people will get into the office and we might have to see how we can help people out and make arrangements for that. But as far as I know everybody is safe and dry and though people might be without power we will try and deal with that.”

He revealed that the agency’s clients had also been in touch asking how everyone was and to see if they could help, but that he expected that it might just be a case of taking a couple of more days to finish some work due to the office closure.

So it seems that many businesses will aim to return to work from today in the city, but judging by the damage that one of the world’s greatest cities has endured, it may take more than a few days to see it return to normal, but in time, it will. That’s for certain.

Images courtesy of Jules Ehrhardt @ezyjules

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