More than 65,000 recreational boats were damaged or lost as a result of Hurricane Sandy, according to BoatU.S., who also estimates that dollar damage to all recreational boats (only) is $650 million, making the late October storm the single- largest industry loss since the Association began keeping track in 1966. “We are all reeling from the huge impact this storm has had on communities and people’s lives,” said BoatU.S. AVP Public Affairs Scott Croft. “We’ve never seen anything like it. The scope of the damage to boats is unprecedented, affecting large areas from the Atlantic seaboard as far inland as the Great Lakes, with the majority of damage in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.”
While insurance companies were busy working with individual owners, as well as investigating hurricane damage prevention measures taken by boaters, 22 student-athletes on the Fordham University Sailing Team were also hard at work. The week after the storm, Fordham Sailing (pictured below) helped to clean up Sailmaker Marine, a small marina in City Island, NY. Co-owners Paul Laddomada and Maura Mandrano were thrilled and extremely grateful for the voluntary efforts of the Fordham sailors. “As soon as they arrived, the kids got immediately to work and it was amazing what they accomplished,” said Laddomada. “Our docks were 90% destroyed. Some floats and planks were washed away and ended up two blocks from here. The Fordham students salvaged most of what was missing so we can reuse the material to rebuild.” According to Mandrano, “It would have taken the two of us all winter to accomplish what these kids did in two afternoons after school. We shall be forever grateful.”
This is just one of many such stories that have been circulating at WindCheck. Our Publisher Anne Hannan was one of many volunteers that worked to sort out the Dinghy Shop in Amityville, NY (pictured on page 8). Hard hit by the storm, the Dinghy Shop enjoyed help from as far away as Louisiana! Dinghy Shop owner Jim Koehler is an avid Sunfish sailor and racer. One of Jim’s longtime friends and fellow Sunfisher, Todd Edwards, knows what it’s like to be storm ravaged, having weathered Katrina, and traveled all the way from New Orleans to lend a hand. Others came from Rhode Island and Connecticut, and local Opti sailors and their parents rolled up their sleeves to help out at the shop where they spend so much quality time with one another.
Fairfield, CT, with more than 2,000 homes damaged, had a group of nearly 1,000 people assemble on the beach for a clean-up. Among them – and you can usually tell a sailor by his or her gear – were friends from the local marinas, yacht clubs, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, junior sailors and beach cat junkies – all arm in arm sweeping the beach clean of debris. Many similar beach clean-ups took place around the entire Northeast. Though efforts began quickly and much has already been salvaged, repaired and even rebuilt, there is still much to do and not a single sailor I know will sit back and do nothing knowing that there are still people out there who need help and guidance to get back on their feet and under sail.
Jack Gierhart, US Sailing’s Executive Director and the rest of the US Sailing staff, are taking steps to help sailors and sailing organizations get back on track. US Sailing is actively working as a facilitator, connecting those that need assistance and support as they rebuild with those willing and able to help. They have created a web page to exchange information and connect various parties. Additionally, US Sailing has offered up other ideas on how they can help: • US Sailing is in the process of collecting resources and contacts for storm victims to access; they will also work to organize a group of volunteers from around the country who have experience in rebuilding, who can be available to provide advice, etc. • US Sailing is learning more about the needs of the sailors and organizations, and will share those with parties that want to provide assistance. As they see patterns or consistent needs arising, they will work to arrange a coordinated response from appropriate parties. • US Sailing’s partners at the Gowrie Group have developed plans to offer guidance for planning, preparation, and resuming business. • US Sailing is organizing a session for the upcoming National Sailing Programs Symposium (NSPS – Jan 24-26 in Clearwater, FL) to address recovery issues/topics and provide a venue for those in the Northeast that would like to interface in person with people who have experienced similar situations. • US Sailing can also use their network of 1,800 sailing organizations around the country to communicate what is going on, and how people can help.
WindCheck will continue to work with US Sailing as well as local/regional organizations to ensure that any and all needs are met. Prior to Sandy, WindCheck’s Facebook page was a resource for planning. During the storm we kept our friends updated on damage, and communicated offers of assistance. We will continue to serve as a place to which people can post their needs, willingness to assist or any constructive ideas. If you haven’t visited us, go to Facebook.com/ WindCheckMagazine. Should your needs fall under any of the categories that US Sailing is working to develop, you can contact US Sailing directly at home.ussailing.org/HurricaneResource.htm.
The sailing community is incredibly resilient and supportive. I’ve written about it before, but it rings especially true under circumstances into which many of us have recently been forced. I have observed on many occasions, none more so than in the wake of the occasional ‘superstorm,’ that whether you’re a fellow sailor helping out a friend or the national governing body of our sport, the camaraderie among us is unbreakable.
There are still plenty of opportunities to lend a hand in the rebuild process. As you read this – likely in the well-lit warmth of your home or club – remember there are still those without power or even a roof over their heads. When you put down WindCheck, pick up your work gloves, or think of a unique way you can offer support.
See you on the water, and happy holidays!