Many people refer to the Sandy recovery efforts as “a marathon, not a sprint,” given that the work it will take to get things to a state of normalcy will be intensive and long lasting. The “superstorm,” which was a combination of a hurricane, a nor’easter, and surging tides, left many people displaced from their homes forever.
Marty Jablow, DMD, has a vacation house in Sea Bright and runs a practice in Woodbridge, NJ. I asked him about the situation in Sea Bright, nearly two months since the storm. “There are still many in temporary housing and some areas are still not fully accessible,” he told me. “[There are] still discussions on the news about rebuilding issues and who is going to pay for it.” He explained that, although most people have returned to “a semblance of their lives,” the community of Sea Bright still has areas without power. “But we hope to have it back by year-end.”
There is a safety net for many citizens of the affected areas, the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, which pays for hotel rooms for displaced families and individuals, including around 4,000 families in New York alone. Funding has been set to expire twice, but they have prolonged the deadline, offering a total of an extra six weeks for displaced individuals.
Government representatives are expressing that they hope other programs will keep people from “slipping through the cracks,” but many believe, regardless of their position on the government’s role in this issue, that there are other avenues that are more capable of helping those in need.
According to Jablow: “[The recovery] is a slow process, but we have really seen the good in people. There have been volunteers from all over the country who have generously given their time just to help others.”
The dental industry should be recognized for its efforts to get people back on track as quickly as possible. Howard Klein, president of Lanmark360, was one of the people in the industry who led a campaign to help Sandy victims. Just days after the storm hit – and when most people in affected areas were still without power and Internet access – Lanmark360 launched the famous Shave the Shore campaign, in which Klein promised not to shave his beard until $10,000 was raised for the American Red Cross. What’s most impressive, however, is how quickly others got on board to support the cause – people who weren’t tied to Lanmark or Klein in any way and just wanted to help. Some donated notable amounts and some donated what they could – $5, $10, $15.
The movement of support started immediately. “Michael McCarthy, the chief strategy officer at Lanmark360, pledged not to shave before we even went public,” Klein told me. “Personal friends pledged not to shave. When I announced it on my personal Facebook, clients and friends were pledging donations just on Facebook, before we even had the site set up. Everyone was commenting ‘Put me down for $100,’ ‘Put me down for $50’ and asking, ‘Where can we donate?’”
One of those notable donations came from Darby Dental and brought the campaign’s goal up from $10,000 to $20,000. “Michael Bocian, the vice president of sales and marketing at Darby Dental, put the challenge forth that if we raised $15,000, Darby would pledge $5,000,” said Klein. “It surprised me because we were so close to hitting our goal, and just when we thought we were done, Darby came forth with the challenge. They gave us a really good reason and the motivation to continue.”
The biggest surprise of the campaign was how the story generated publicity through social media, Klein told me. “It was amazing to see the support we received from editorial without asking. It was also a testament to social media. We started generating publicity beyond social media because the story was making it to editorial offices.”
Today, they’re still accepting donations. At the time of writing, they were at $21,051.
Lanmark360 has given the donations to the American Red Cross so people can receive help with food, shelter, and comfort. So far, $168 million dollars has been raised to assist the American Red Cross and their efforts with Sandy relief.
Klein expressed that he and his team know that the support they received from the industry resulted in the campaign’s ultimate success.
“The campaign wouldn’t have been such a huge success without the support of the dental industry and Darby Dental Supply. It was a true example of the industry uniting and supporting a cause that didn’t necessarily have anything to do with dentistry.”
Thanks to people coming forward to help with the recovery, Jablow is simultaneously hopeful and realistic about the future of the shore. “… Things are improving, and come summer the New Jersey shore will be open for business – but it might not be the summer place you remember.”