On Sunday night I was due to fly to Buenos Aires to speak at an HSM conference and to give speeches to clients, Kraft and BGH. For the two days prior to that, we had been watching the progress of Hurricane Sandy and it was becoming clear that New York and New Jersey had learned the lessons of Hurricane Irene a year ago.

Communications were clear and a State of Emergency was declared early in New York, New Jersey and with seven other states following suit. This was the biggest hurricane to ever hit the East Coast and predictions of storm surge flooding left little room for improvisation.

My Newark flight was cancelled and I shifted to a later flight from JFK. During the day, however, it became clear to me that emotionally I was in no fit state to leave NY. I felt the flight would anyway be cancelled but more to the point I felt I could not desert the Agency, my colleagues and my friends. No matter what the rational brain said, my heart told me I could only hunker down and stay.

During that Sunday the warnings became more and more strident with airports closings, subways closing, tunnels and bridges closing, and evacuation orders being mandates. My home and the Agency are in Zone B, meaning we missed mandatory evacuation by one or two blocks.

The hurricane hit as predicted.

Flooding in Battery Park with 13 foot wave surges, disasters throughout the states as predicted.

On Monday the whole of downtown New York from 23rd Street downwards lost power. A Con Edison plant exploded through flooding and at 8:30pm on Monday night, along with millions of others in the region, I lost power and water.

As I write this, we’re looking at seven to fourteen more days for many households without power. Zone B came back on on Saturday morning. Five days without power, water, heat or communications.

In times of crisis, none of us are at our best. Some of us are better than others but crisis means we are operating without resources, without a sense of control, without experience, and without knowledge. It seems to me that the only thing you can do in times like this is to listen to your heart, live life very slowly, keep very calm, and attempt to contain and minimize risk in your own environment.

New York is a resilient city. Next week will be better.

My heartfelt thanks to all friends and family who looked out for us during this testing period.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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