The Day of Giving

manhattan blackout hurricane sandy, preston bailey blog

manhattan blackout hurricane sandy, preston bailey blog

Dear Readers,

The sun is fighting to come out today and New Yorkers are slowly starting to fill the streets thanks to city officials and MTA professionals working diligently to get our subways moving.  There is a familiar sense of determination and sadness that permeates the air.  It’s a feeling New Yorkers know well, and yet, it still hits us just as hard every time we feel it.  As many of you know, much of the east coast was hit by Sandy last week.  First deemed a hurricane and then a cyclone, Sandy was a violent mix of rain and wind that left widespread inconvenience and outright destruction in its path.   Having lived in New York for over 40 years, I have experienced storms, blackouts, and of course, the tragedy of 911.  Still, Sandy was a devastating surprise to even the most experienced New Yorker.

It all began last Monday when we received news that schools were being closed and transportation was being shut down.  Like most New Yorkers, my partner and I did our best to prepare, loading up on enough food and bottled water to get us through the storm. The winds came suddenly, and living on the 16th floor of a Manhattan building allowed us to bear witness to their force against our windows.  We were so overwhelmed that we hid in the windowless area of our loft.  As we monitored the storms progress through news reports, we saw it as little more than heavy winds and rain. Then the power went out. Being an optimist, I assured my partner that it was nothing to worry about; it would be back on again soon.  Thirty-six hours later, with no water, a smelling toilet and rotting food, we knew it was time to evacuate.  Our neighbors did as well.  

There is a common misconception about New Yorkers.  Many people see us as hard, jaded, selfish or mean.  The reality is that New Yorkers, while more direct and realistic than some, are also a quite compassionate bunch.  I was touched by the generosity my neighbors, friends, and fellow residents were showing one another.  The uptown area of Manhattan still had electricity and my dear friends, the Keidan’s, reached out and offered for us to come and stay with them, a gesture that I will forever be grateful to have received.  

My offices in Chelsea had been shut down due to a loss of power and with three huge events in production (one being held for 500 guests at The Waldorf tonight) the potential for failure was high.  There was no water for flowers, no gas for deliveries, delayed flights for our crew, etc.  I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

Today, like many others affected by Sandy, I feel vulnerable and off-balance. I also feel a sense of panic: how am I going to produce these jobs?

In this past week, I have learned a few very important lessons.
I have always been inspired by Mother Nature, yet in this past week, she humbled me.  Her power truly has no boundaries.

It is when situations like this arise that we become acutely aware that no man (or woman) is an island.  I would like to thank all of my neighbors and friends and both Levy Lighting for providing us space to produce our job and Van Vliet for helping us with space and flowers.

Yesterday, I returned to my home and today my staff and I are back in our offices.  My professional worries pale in comparison to the many men and women who have lost their homes due to flood and fire and to the loved ones of those who tragically lost their lives.

I would like to urge all of you to consider helping the recovery effort in some way, either by volunteering or donating a sum, however small to The American Red Cross.

Also, today is a wonderful opportunity to name and thank those unsung heroes in your own life.  Even if you were not touched by  Sandy, do take a moment to send some love and appreciation to those who have been there for you in your time of need.

Thank you for all of your support and well wishes.



(Photo courtesy of New York Magazine)