Optical Industry Members Continue Forging Path to Recovery After Hurricane Sandy

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NEW YORK—As the communities affected by Hurricane Sandy continue on a slow path toward recovery, optical industry associations, businesses and individuals continue to assist in helping victims get back on track.

Vision Finders of East Rockaway, N.Y. has suffered severe damages, according to store manager Kevin Flynn. After being flooded with three feet of water, he told VMail, the store has lost much of its inventory, sheetrock, flooring, showcases and patient records.

“Anything you can think of is gone, and the things that weren’t are severely water damaged,” he said. “When I first came in, it looked like a terrarium…everything was dripping, everything was floating and moved all over the place.” He continued, “I don’t have flood insurance, so I’ll be begging and borrowing and stealing to find money to have construction done, and to add insult to injury, I pay for business interruption insurance but it only provides for covered events. So far I have not seen an adjustment or gotten a call back. I reported this weeks ago.”

Flynn described the devastation as “unfortunate,” but despite the hardship, is attempting to do what he can to get his store back in order. “I’m down here every day, trying to get back in business as soon as possible,” he said, noting that he recently regained electricity, though is still without heat. “I’ve been here every day trying to get the doors open, get frames in the showcases if I can do that. Hopefully people don’t go elsewhere.”

The Power Practice, a consulting business based in Franklin, N.J., suffered minor inconveniences, and is now offering free consultation to practices affected by the storm. “After nine days without power and running our consulting business on cell phones while sitting in cars, we're back in business. Others obviously fared way worse,” said Dr. Gary Gerber, CEO. “We're offering free consultation advice to any of those affected. Anything we can do to help them, we will, for free.”

Schools and students, too, were affected by the storm. SUNY’s College of Optometry, based in midtown Manhattan, was closed for four days (Oct. 30 to Nov. 2) by order of Governor Cuomo, a spokesperson said. However, he continued, employees and students had access to the building for showers, heat and internet.

“We did not sustain any damage, but we did have some issues with our phone system which was largely due to a problem with Verizon,” the spokesperson said. “All faculty, staff and students are okay, with the exception of a number having lost power and/or heat, and several having been displaced from their homes.”

In the storm’s aftermath, he continued, the University Eye Center (UEC) has been contacting patients to offer assistance with eye-related issues. “The UEC is reaching out to its Sandy-affected patient base to offer assistance to anyone who might have suffered some eye-health related damage, i.e. damage to eyeglasses or contact lenses or other issues due to the storm,” the spokesperson said. “We're also currently looking into other ways in which we can assist the community post-Sandy.”

Vision Monday has been reporting on Hurricane Sandy’s impact in a series of reports and updates, covering a range of industry relief and support service programs and the efforts of many ECPs, suppliers and labs to help those impacted. Catch up on these stories on VisionMonday.com.