Photo credit: Gina Pierson

Mucking Out After Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season and the largest Atlantic hurricane on record. More than 70 people were killed in the United States alone, and damages were estimated at nearly $75 billion, a total surpassed only by Hurricane Katrina1.

Eyewitness to the Destruction

Hurricane Sandy affected 24 states—with particularly severe damage hitting New York and New Jersey. Tropical storm conditions and hurricane force winds caused streets, tunnels and subway lines to flood, and many cities lost power. The Principal had 21 offices and more than 400 employees in the storm’s path.

Bob Scherzer, vice president of sales in our New York City office, was an eyewitness to the storm. “I live in Baskingridge, N.J., and other than the power outages and a few gasoline shortages, we were pretty lucky,” he says. “Other areas, of course, weren't as lucky. Friends of mine who lived near the Jersey Shore had their homes become unlivable — instead of land, there's now an inlet where only the foundation of their house remains.

“A co-worker who lives in Queens had eight feet of water in her house during the storm. We tried to help as much as we could with some informal fundraising and taking care of administrative things like PTO (Personal Time Off). Helping was just the right thing to do. I know they would do the same thing for me if I needed help.”

Employees from The Principal distribution office in New York City and the Parsippany office in New Jersey helped with the "muck out" for Hurricane Sandy victims. The crew included Mike Burke, Janet O'Leary, Brendan Hyde, Bob Scherzer and others.

Getting Down and Dirty for Cleanup

The help didn’t end there.

Donning haz-mat suits, employees from the New York City office, including Scherzer, and employees from the Parsippany, New Jersey, office, participated in a “muck out” for Hurricane Sandy victims. The crew cleaned out two basements in Queens, N.Y., stripping the walls down to the wood studs so mold could be removed prior to the rebuild. They also shoveled a lot of sand out of one house. Scherzer says the flood line was over their heads.

Donating to Relief Efforts

Following Hurricane Sandy, The Principal donated $100,000 to relief efforts. The money was divided among the following charities benefiting those in the hardest hit states of New York and New Jersey:

  • In New York: Empire State Relief Fund, New York Police Disaster Relief Fund and New York Friends of Firefighters
  • In New Jersey: New Jersey Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund and Community FoodBank of New Jersey

We also committed to match employee contributions to these charities, dollar-for-dollar, up to a total of $50,000.

1 — National Hurricane Center

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