Hurricane Sandy: A Scrapper’s View

Tom Buechel, creator of the iScrap App had a very unique set of circumstances heading in the week of Hurricane Sandy sweeping through his region of residence and business. Below are his thoughts and adventures through the crisis.

“Hoboken, NJ –  Here I was 2000 miles away from home and the biggest storm to hit the East Coast was on its way. My flight had been canceled, and after Hurricane Irene flooded my scrap yard and put pressure on my home in Hoboken I had to figure something out.

I hopped on a flight from Dallas to Cleveland, then drove 450 miles on Monday October 29th right into the heart of the storm so that I could be closer to the ones that were important to me.

As I entered New Jersey, the winds started to pick up, and I knew that Hurricane Sandy had the potential to become the storm that they talked about it being. I was able to make it to my Mom’s house, but was told that I was not allowed into Hoboken where my wife and friends were.

That night while the winds were blowing, all I could think about was how this storm could affect many lives, and hoped that people listened to the warnings to leave town where the storm threatened the worst.

The next day, in the closing hours of the storm tearing through NY & NJ, the stories started coming in. Millions without power, Hoboken was flooded, the Jersey Shore was devastated with the boardwalk rides being washed to sea. NYC itself was a blacked out mess which is something few thought could never happen. Dozens were missing, many had been killed because of trees falling, flooding waters pouring into homes that it wasn’t supposed to come near, and now our community was forced into reacting as quickly as possible.

My friends and family know that I love being in the scrap metal business, and short of being the shortstop for the New York Yankees, there is few jobs that I would trade mine for. Yet, the day that this storm happened, scrap didn’t matter, the only thing that I was concerned about is that my wife, family, friends, and employees were ok.

I wasn’t allowed into Hoboken until Wednesday afternoon, and even then, could not make it in without being raised high in a Chevy Silverado to get past the flooding waters. Cars were half under water, garbage floated everywhere, and people were outside crying because their basement homes were under five feet of water or more.

This wasn’t the happy-go-lucky town or community that people flocked to, it had become the center of National Attention with the President, the Governor, and other government officials sending whatever help that they could from FEMA, the Red Cross, and other disaster agencies. The word “disaster” is something that many use so loosely in today’s business world, yet, being in the heart of a storm like this gives the word a whole new meaning.

The next few days the dust settled, people slowly began to gain power, and the community has already started to rebuild. Fortunately my immediate family, friends, and others that I know were not hit as hard as many other families were, but as a proud New Jersey resident my entire life I didn’t know what to do.

At Rockaway Recycling our doors were open everyday through the storm, and we immediately started to contact city, town, and state officials offering whatever help that we could.

Through the iScrap App we reached out to thousands of people letting them know the situation that they could only watch unfold on TV and through the radio and internet. We urged them to reach out to help those in these areas, and to help out in whatever ways possible.

At Rockaway Recycling we were contacted by magazines asking for quotes on how the scrap metal business would be affected by this, and we let them know that a lot of scrap would accumulate from this storm and many yards would be busy but that was secondary to what was happening.

At some points scrap metal, making money, and moving metal no longer mattered when something like Superstorm Sandy comes through your backyard and you are forced to look around and be awestruck that nature can be so punishing and devastating.

As an optimist I immediately saw the quick reactions from the local workers trying to get the community back on track with cleanups, donations of goods, and helping people get out from fallen trees and begin to rebuild.

I know that this storm will not leave our memories for years to come, but I know that we will rebuild, we will grow stronger, and we will take this and turn it into a positive. People will ask how we will do that and the answer is simple, we are Americans, and this is what we do.”

Tom Buechel
NJ Resident
Owner of Rockaway Recycling & Creator of the iScrap App

To help those in need, please make donation through the Red Cross:

The iScrap App team would like to send their deepest condolences to those that were affected by Hurricane Sandy, that ripped through the Northeast Coast last week. The iScrap App team, located in New Jersey, was lucky to not have any damage in the office unlike last year during Hurricane Irene, the iScrap App office was under 2 feet of water.

Despite a tragic time for the East Coast, especially those in New Jersey, the scrap industry is expected to see a full rush of activity due to the damages from the storm. With power lines down, fences destroyed, cars crushed, roofs ripped up and more, the scrap industry is going to be playing a vital role in the clean up from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Some things to keep in mind, downed power lines should be considered live and dangerous. Also although something may be destroyed from the storm, that doesn’t mean you can take it for scrap. Many people have to file insurance claims and have to have the damage looked at. The best advice is to hand out your contact information to your community so they can reach out to you when they are ready to remove any scrap from their property.

“Read more about scrapping during the storm season…”

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