Cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy was one of the most devastating storms ever to hit the US East Coast, leaving an estimated USD 50 billion of damage in her wake. In the immediate aftermath, Xylem delivered more than 500 dewatering pumps to municipalities and industrial sites in affected areas. Three months later, more than 100 of them are still in service across the storm-battered region. 

By Isabelle Kliger

“Having been in this business for 25 years, I’ve learned never to underestimate the potential for disaster with a hurricane,” says Grant Salstrom, Managing Director of Xylem’s dewatering business in the US. “We started preparing for Sandy several days before her landfall by moving our equipment to where it would be most needed.”

In the days leading up to Hurricane Sandy, Salstrom and his team gathered hundreds of Godwin dewatering pumps from across the US – some coming from as far away as Texas and Montana – and stockpiled them in Xylem branches and distribution sites near her projected path.

As the “super storm” raged on October 29 and 30, causing massive flooding and power outages, hundreds of Godwin Dri-Prime and hydraulic submersible pumps were deployed to customers who needed to move massive amounts of water without any available electricity. Within 24 hours of Sandy’s arrival, Xylem had delivered 200 pumps to the impact zone – a number that increased to 500 in the days that followed.

“Our principal goal was to get people back to normal as quickly as possible,” continues Salstrom. “Our differentiator in this business is our 24/7 service promise. We also have a great deal of experience dealing with storms and take special pride in helping people quickly when they need it.”

In the weeks that followed, Xylem worked closely with customers ranging from buildings in New York City, wastewater treatment plants and refineries, to help solve the problems caused by the storm.

One customer, a major wastewater treatment plant, was swamped by the storm surge and out of commission due to flooding. Xylem provided technical support, along with diesel-driven hydraulic submersible pumps, centrifugal pumps and electric submersible pumps driven by generators, to dewater the plant that was four feet (1.2 meters) under water. Since completing the dewatering process, Xylem has continued to supply back-up equipment to ensure that the plant is protected from future storms or floods.   

Three months after Hurricane Sandy, Xylem still has more than 100 pumps out on rent while customers have their existing, storm-damaged equipment repaired and replaced.

“We’ve continued to support customers with pumps and accessories, as well as offering 24/7 pump watch. Many of the new relationships formed as a result of Hurricane Sandy will continue into the future,” adds Salstrom.

He is quick to emphasize that the potential devastating impact of a hurricane should not be underestimated and planning ahead is crucial.

“You can never be over-prepared,” he says. “During hurricane season, watch the weather and make sure you have a strategy in place to protect your business. This includes ensuring the safety of your employees and moving equipment and assets to higher ground or away from the path of the storm and areas prone to flooding. Reach out to your customers to let them know that you’re available and always ensure that you’ll be able to contact them in the event of a power outage.

“Many of our customers, such as water and wastewater plants, refineries and municipalities, provide essential services, so we needed to get them up and running as quickly as possible,” Salstrom says. “Our customers are our lifeblood and we want them to know that we’re available 24/7 when they need us.”

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