Monday, November 26, 2012

Mayor's Office Tweet

NYC Mayor's Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) tweeted at 7:39 AM on Sat, Nov 24, 2012:
The Mayor just announced $5.5 million in new grants for small businesses hurt by #sandy. For info, go to http://t.co/TEDML8bl or call 311.
(https://twitter.com/NYCMayorsOffice/status/27231856884097024…)

Courtesy of Mark Krassner

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Employment Law Issues In The Wake Of Sandy




Employment Law Issues In The Wake Of Sandy

We send well wishes to our clients and colleagues in the northeast grappling with the aftermath of Sandy.  In addition to just trying to keep your business going, this catastrophic storm raises a host of employment law-issues for employers.  After days of power outages and other storm-related damage, some of the questions you may need to address include the following:

  • Am I liable if employees get hurt or injured trying to make their way back to work?  Whether an employer would be liable in the event an employee is hurt or injured trying to report to work on a day when the employer has reopened is not clear-cut and would likely depend on a number of factors.  At the very least, to guard against such potential liability, an employer should proceed carefully in communicating with employees about their return to work.  Instead of insisting that employees show up on a designated day and time, it is prudent that e-mail or text communications with employees be sensitive to their concerns about safety and logistics.  The best approach is for employers to instruct employees to use their own discretion when it comes to returning to work, while requiring that they stay in touch and let the business know whether they will be making it in or not.  
  • How do I pay employees when the business is closed during and after the storm?  This mainly depends on whether the employee is exempt from the overtime pay regulations.  In the interest of employee morale, however, the employer may want to consider providing pay for the closure for all employees, although there likely is no legal obligation to do so for non-exempt employees.  In short, when the business was closed at the business owner's discretion (or, in the case of a storm like Sandy, due to a government-declared state of emergency), exempt employees still need to be paid their full salary in any workweek in which they perform work, but non-exempt employees only need to be paid if they work.  Employers can require all employees to use a banked vacation, sick or personal day to cover the day.  However, if the employer does not provide paid time off or the employee has no remaining days in their bank, exempt employees probably need to be paid for the closure, while non-exempt employees generally do not. Keep in mind, that some states, like New York, have "show-up" pay if non-exempt employees show up and are sent home.    

We know these are trying times for many business owners affected by the storm, and we hope you have power and heat, and can keep a level head and positive attitude in dealing with these and the other challenges facing us in the days ahead.



Special thanks to EO NY Member Joel Greenwald!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Disaster Relief Conference Call notes

November 5, 2012


Introduction:

Shep Sepaniak EO NY Chapter President
Opened the call, acknowledged everyone’s hardship & efforts in the aftermath of the storm.   
Advised the call will be focused on recovery “needs and leads” to help people get back online with family, community, business. Thanked everyone for participation.

Sarah Endline EO NY Learning Chair
Introduced the EO disaster relief “experts”
  • Kevin Langley & Jude Olinger from EO New Orleans 
  • Damon Gersh and Joseph Steinberg from EO New York
  • Stephen Kearley from EO Toronto

Outlined the agenda for the call as follows::
  1. 3 experts will talk for 3-5 minutes
  2. Kevin & Jude will share experiences from Katrina Hurricane
  3. Open Q&A


The Experts:

Damon Gersh Maxon’s Restoration, EO NY
  • Spoke primarily about property damage and insurance.   Key points:
  • Demand goes way up and the supply goes way down. i.e. gas
  • Expert services become scarce 
  • Time is of the essence, especially when water damage is involved
  • Mitigate the damage to your property so it won’t get worse
Steps:
  1. document your loss: take inventory, can’t take enough photos and video; need details
  2. get rid of the wet materials; sort to things that can and cannot be restored; remove wet carpeting, sheetrock and insulation (can cause mold problem)
  3. once you have exposed the walls and removed flooring, you can start to dry the building with     humidifiers, cross-ventilating the space etc
  4. clean and disinfect to prevent mold from growing
  5. get repair and replacement estimates
  6. get a contractor to put things back and restore – but work out with your insurance company first
  • Ground water and from rivers are considered flood damage NOT WATER DAMAGE 
    • read policy carefully for coverage on flooding, separate
    • be aware of what you have available to you

Joseph Steinberg Green Armor Solutions, EO NY
  • Spoke about IT security encompassing disaster recovery and data security.   
  • Key points:
  • Time is against you once you have damage
  • When there is damage, criminals exploit and fraud takes place.
  • Prevention -- identify risks and plan ahead; those who have recovered from Sandy forecast for this hard winter
  • Documentation is key.
  • Communication critical -- basic rule for communicating with the outside: designate a specific party and ONLY use that party for communications to eliminate contradictory/confusing information and trust Be confident in rebuilding: we will recover – tragedy → opportunity to rebuild better

Stephen Kearley Benson Kearley IFG, EO Toronto
Spoke about insurance.
Key points:
  • Agents and brokers are extremely busy
  • Extremely important to take the time to look at policy wording
    • Pay really close attentions to exclusions
    • Wording should be legal
    • Jurisdictions and regulations may vary but wording is similar
  • When you have a chance to sit down with your broker, you being educated can make a HUGE difference; know exactly what you are entitled to
    • Do your policies cover flood? Deductible, etc
    • Check policy for physical property damage and business interruption
  • Co-insurance clause: will state the amount that you have to participate in the loss 
    • You may have to pay the difference that you are underinsured
  • Contact Stephen if you need coaching through the legal jargon to maximize your coverage

Jude Olinger The Olinger Group, EO New Orleans
 Notes that it is now 7 years post- Katrina
Wrote a 2-page “lesson plan” 6 weeks after Katrina with lessons learned after the crisis with perspective in hindsight:
  1. act quickly; don’t panic; time is the enemy; focus
  2. be prepared to use much more time and effort to accomplish tasks than they required before the storm
  3. don’t lose your greatest asset -- the employees -- be a decisive leader/communicator but be empathetic and compassionate
  4. be selfish with your time, take care of yourself and allocate time wisely
  5. cash is king and even more so in crisis, have reserves
  6. don’t count on any government assistance
  7. don’t expect things to be what they were before; keep moving and ignore the tendency to make things as they were before, but instead strive to make things better
Will distribute plan.

Kevin Langley Ellis Construction, Inc., EO New Orleans
Rebuilt after Katrina:
  • 9 ft of water in house/5 in business after Katrina, 3-year old triplets
  • eye-opening and traumatic experience
Also lost power during Gustav and Isaac
Key advice:
  • Relationships are key amidst tragedies, quality of relationships as well
  • Give and receive moral support 
  • You are a leader and people are looking to you
  • Do not forget about yourself – there will be times of severe depression
  • Someone in EO will be there for you
  • Keep your head in the game
  • An  opportunity and reflection point to rebuild things better for professional and personal growth
  • Be proactive about helping
  • Adapt and think outside the box
  • This is what entrepreneurship is about – thinking in terms of the new world


Open Q&A

Question: I hired a public adjuster last year to go through my house and file a claim, and it 
was very successful; is it possible for a business as well a residence?
Answers
  1. 3rd party independent individual a best course of action; unbiased and will fight on your behalf 
  2. Experts in assembling and negotiating claims are focused on bigger claims right now, back to supply and demand
  3. K. Langley: Don’t rely on anyone else. Time is of the essence -- took 7 years after Katrina to get through the process, if you are relying on insurance money it may take a long time
  4. D. Gersh: There are reputable and disreputable adjusting firms; signing a retainer can be a problem strongly encourage contacting Stephen Kearley

Question: Does anyone have a good resource in navigating the FEMA programs that may be 
available to us?
Answers:
  1. Generally listed on the webpage
  2. There are different stages of this disaster, immediate aftermath and then recovering. Try not to rely on disaster assistance. Government assistance can often be an unmitigated disaster. Try Short term cash flow through relationship with bankers and credit line
  3. J. Olinger: Took 1 year before he saw any loan funds and by then no longer needed it.
  4. K. Langley: Use your relationships.  Time can be costly.
  5. Government needs to be the last resort.

Question: Understanding business losses based on time out of the office, billable hours, is 
there a way to be reimbursed if you do not have coverage?
Answers
  1. No, it must be in your policy so read carefully; would be quantified by this time last year and 
  2. the trending since.
  3. Lesson from 9/11: quantity and quality of relationships; EO, vendors, bankers… have a solid credit line in place
  4. Darren K – Capital Once supports EO NY

Question: What are best practices while working off-site to keep morale high?
Answers
  1. K. Langley: Katrina revealed all of the problems in my life/business/clients; In the aftermath you have to be a leader and keep employees engaged by do what you’ve already done but being more deliberate, conscious and sensitive. I eventually had to let some toxic employees go.
  2. J. Olinger: worked remotely for approx. 6 months post Katrina. Be a positive leader, communicate your plans clearly, keep everyone motivated and excited about recovery, progress, opportunity and the future but be realistic. Have an open door policy.

Question: What was your time-off experience?
Answers:
  1. We were able to keep working even though not at maximum productivity; be fair to employees and the business with PTO policy
  2. Guarantee payroll -- you may not be making profit for awhile, but it builds extreme loyalty and keeps morale high

Question: Matt Weisz – After 9/11 I was able to file a claim due to dependent property 
coverage – (property you depend on for income). 50% of Manhattan lost power and 
policy says off-premises utility service coverage; what does this mean? Does it apply to a business that doesn’t have power?
Answers
  1. S. Kearley: Contingent business coverage in Canada, sublimit or extension in general terms, sounds like a package policy with a lot of extensions; exactly the type of thing to look at; sounds like you have a coverage limit. What exactly am I entitled to? What extensions have they thrown in I don’t know about. Was the damage caused by wind or flood? What was the exact cause of damage?



Thanks from Sarah



UPDATED WEATHER for tonight courtesy of Jeff Wimmer

NYC

Rain and snow is expected to start around 9 to 10 am, mainly light
Rain and snow should become steadier right after 12pm and continue through 9pm
Expect a wintry mix tonight and changing all to rain early tomorrow, with the last chance of a shower around 1 pm tomorrow
Winds will continue to increase today to around 15-25 mph with gusts up to 45-50 mph possible, then 15-25 mph with gusts up to 50-55 mph for the overnight,
Total wintry precip accumulation for NYC is a coating to 2 inches

DUTCHESS

Rain and snow is expected to start around 9 to 10 am, mainly light
Rain and snow should become steadier right after 12pm and change over to all snow around 3 pm
Expect a wintry mix tonight and changing all to rain early tomorrow, with the last chance of a shower around 1 pm tomorrow
Winds will continue to increase today to around 15-25 mph with gusts up to 35-40 mph possible, then 15-25 mph with gusts up to 40-45 mph for the overnight,
Total wintry precip accumulation for DUTCHESS IS 2-4 inches

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wednesday Forecast from Jeff Wimmer

It looks like right now the precip will begin from South to North from mid to late morning. Looks like the city begins around 9am, and Dutchess around 11am. A mix of rain and snow looks like a good likelihood in the city, with mainly all snow for Dutchess. Worst part of the storm precip wise, looks to be from 12pm to 6pm. Snow will mix with and change to rain along the coast and city with mainly a rain and snow mix tomorrow night. Accumulations a coating to 2 inches city/coast, and 2-4 inches Dutchess. Winds will also be increasing tonight and especially tomorrow. Generally 20-30 mph sustained with gusts 45-55 mph. Showers end midday Thursday, then nicer weather for Friday.

Fuel Info

Please see the attached Fuel Inventory for Hess Stations in the Northeast. Please note this list is current as of the time / date printed on the report. No further information is available at this time. Report is in PDF, and more information can be found at Hess Express. There is a specified window titled "Hurricane Sandy Info: Fuel Inventory Information". We cannot assist with issues related to the opening or content of this report.

In regards to Exxon/Mobil locations, please visit Exxon/Mobil Locations or text SANDY to 51359. Please find attached a roster of all locations in the region affected by Hurricane Sandy. No further information is available at this time. Report is in PDF, we cannot assist with issues related to the opening or content of this report.

In regards to BP, please visit BP Locator to find precise locations of BP stores. No further information is available at this time.

In regards to Sunoco, please visit Sunoco Locator to find precise locations of Sunoco stores. No further information is available at this time.

In regards to Valero, please visit Valero Locator to find precise locations of Valero stores. You must use the search link on the right hand side of the webpage. No further information is available at this time.



Thanks to Richard Shinnick for sharing!