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Lucky in Hoboken

Posted by Ilise Benun on

I was lucky to be traveling on the other side of the country when Superstorm Sandy hit last week. And especially lucky to not have any flooding in the part of Hoboken where I live, relatively high ground, considering much of the town is below sea level.

But I did have animals that needed care (and medication) and my neighbors stepped in to be sure that they were well cared for and not too lonely.

I spent the week at the HOW Interactive Design Conference, alternately
listening to speakers on responsive web design and jquery, while taking
short breaks back in my room to watch CNN and the horrifying images of flooded Hoboken and Mayor Dawn Zimmer doing everything she could to get help to those who needed it most — and there were (and are still) many.

I was supposed to leave SF to return to Hoboken 2 days after the storm, but by then most flights had been cancelled (19,000 I heard) and I couldn’t get a flight back until Saturday morning. The kind folks at F&W/HOW extended my stay in San Francisco and I essentially worked from there, talking to clients all over the country via Skype and cell phone. (Glad I moved most everything to the cloud and bought those extra minutes recently.)

By Friday, there was still no power on my block in Hoboken so there was no reason to go back. All my neighbors were texting me, “Don’t come back. You’re not missing anything. Stay away til things return to normal.”

I reviewed my options and decided to go directly to Toronto, where I was planning to go the following Wednesday anyway, for speaking gigs on "Best Practices for Proposals, Estimates and RFPs"for both IABC (read the summary of what I said here) and the RGD Ontario. (Thanks to my favorite airline, Porter Air, for waiving the change fee to get me to Toronto early.)

It wasn’t til I had already booked my flight that I realized I didn’t have my passport. Would they let me cross the border with only my driver’s license? I pleaded (though didn’t cry) but was told they make no exceptions to that rule. I had to have my passport, which was in my Hoboken apartment.

I tried Fedex and a private messenger service, but no one was guaranteeing any deliveries or pickups in Hoboken. And with the fuel shortage, I couldn’t ask a neighbor to use their precious gas for something that wasn’t life or death. That didn’t seem right, although a couple generous neighbors offered.

Finally I tried my trusty car service, Newport Limo (highly recommended if you're in NJ). I asked if they would pick up my passport and deliver it to me at the airport, just like they would if it were me going to the airport. They hesitated briefly but then agreed and didn’t even charge me extra.

Once I had the logistics in place, the only possible glitch was the timing. What if my flight was delayed and I wasn’t there to meet the driver? What if he couldn’t find me? Where would he leave it?

Well, none of that worry was necessary (it rarely is anyway). The plan went off without a hitch. My competent neighbor(thanks David!) got the goods together, handed them off and the driver found me in my red jacket without a problem. And I had plenty of time to pass through the border security.

So again, I got lucky, but there are still plenty of people who need places to stay now that the temperatures are dropping. And now there’s been another storm which has snowed in the cars in my neighborhood and hampered relief efforts.

Is this the new normal?

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