2013 Special Recognition: Hurricane Sandy response – MarineMax and Strong’s Marine

Special Recognition:
Hurricane Sandy response

MarineMax and Strong’s Marine

From its birth near the Dominican Republic on Oct. 24, 2012, to its direct hit of New York City on Halloween, Hurricane Sandy claimed 285 lives and caused approximately $68 billion in damage during its nine-day assault of the Eastern Seaboard.

“Superstorm Sandy” was an all-out catastrophe — the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history — that flooded tunnels, streets and subway lines in New York City, and decimated piers, sand bars and boardwalks in the surrounding area. It also brought out the best of the marine industry.

As it came ashore in the dead of night, moving off the Atlantic from the southeast, Sandy saved her worst damage for New Jersey, New York City and Long Island — damaging or fully destroying several marinas, boatyards and dealerships along the way.

With many of their own homes damaged or flooded, employees of many marine businesses came together to help their employers clean up, quickly reopen and care for their customers’ boats. Recovering from this storm wasn’t just a matter of working overtime or doing dirty work, but a series of more dramatic, selfless acts that bonded teams, brought neighborhoods together and required quick, creative thinking to keep moving in the face of any business owner’s worst nightmare.

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With this in mind, Boating Industry commends everyone impacted by Sandy, with special recognition for Top 100 member Strong’s Marine, and multi-location MarineMax, a Top 100 Hall of Fame member.

At Strong’s, located near the tip of Long Island in Mattituck, N.Y., its staff went into overdrive long before the storm arrived. Using its email newsletter, they reached out to clients with helpful tips and vital information before and after the storm.

“In times of need, Strong’s service department delivers — we protect clients’ boats when severe weather threatens, and our organization efficiently bounces back after severe weather events so we’re there to assist with service or repair-related needs,” said Strong’s Bridget Rymer. “Due to a detailed procedure in place, our service department was able to pick up and haul a large number of boats prior to the storm hitting.”

Its staff quickly and carefully prepared for the storm surge, which helped spare the dealership from the degree of devastation so many neighboring marinas faced. As a result of countless over-and-above efforts from its staff, Strong’s was able to open back up just 48 hours after the storm and after more than two feet of water swept through its buildings.

MarineMax has 55 retail locations in total, 14 in the Northeast and seven that were damaged from the hurricane: Norwalk, Conn.; Chelsea Piers, Huntington and Lindenhurst, N.Y.; as well as Brant Beach, Brick and Ship Bottom in New Jersey.

The MarineMax Long Island & Lindenhurst Marina was its largest location impacted, with a 350-slip marina on 18 acres. MarineMax president of the Northeast region, Matthew Barbara, lives a short distance from the Lindenhurst store, and had a front-row seat for the storm and its aftermath.

“Lindenhurst was one of the areas that got hit really bad,” Barbara said. “It was devastating to come here the next morning and not even be able to get down here, because the water was so high we had to actually get somebody’s boat to come down the canal to see what was left.”

With preparations made in advance, securing customers’ boats, tying down movable objects and securing office equipment up as high as possible, the storm’s impact was dramatically worse than expected. Fences were destroyed, offices and boats were submerged, its shop was mutilated, and many of its piers were lifted out and away.

The next days weren’t easy, clearing debris, contacting customers and trying to lock-in local contractors and electricians to commit to their rebuilding project, rather than another. MarineMax corporate stepped in with gift cards for the staff and financial assistance to secure deposits to get up and running as quickly as possible.

Staff members braved the journey to Lindenhurst, and the company used its 5,000-gallon gas tank to keep employees’ cars and generators going during the subsequent gas shortage. Even neighbors and customers pitched in to do what they could, leaving Barbara and his team very grateful for everybody’s efforts.
“We just tried to do the right thing for the team and appreciate what they were doing to help us rebuild the place,” he said. “I think everybody’s proud that overall it really came back to be a beautiful facility.”

 

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