Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 3, 2012

The Holy Trinity: Water, food, and pharma

Filed under: Catastrophes,Preparedness and Response,Private Sector — by Philip J. Palin on November 3, 2012

WATER: Twelve Jersey shore communities have boil/bleach orders.  New York public health officials have released Do-Not-Drink orders for three water systems (including Breezy Point) and boil/bleach instructions for another 23 systems.  Despite the wide-spread and persistent power failures, most municipal water systems have been able to maintain their operational integrity.  There have been water problems in lower Manhattan because it has often not been possible to pump water into high-rise residential buildings.  But… water systems survived Sandy in pretty good shape.

FOOD: The Staten Island Borough President criticized the Red Cross for a slow response when emergency food distribution did not begin until late in the 72 hours immediate response window.  Meanwhile the Newark Star-Ledger reports that “FEMA agents blanket NJ” and added “Working with the American Red Cross, the agency has distributed millions of gallons of water and millions of meals. It has also provided generators and water pumps.” There have also been several reports of neighborhoods responding spontaneously and generously to food shortages.   Pick-up sites for emergency food and water have been established.

Despite wide-spread power outages, communications failures, and transportation hurdles the grocery supply chain is recovering quickly.  Following is a detailed report by Alaric DeArment with Drug Store News:

  • Ahold USA, which operates 772 supermarkets under the Giant Food Stores, Martin’s Food Markets, Giant Food and Stop & Shop banners throughout the Northeast and Virginia, closed four stores, all in Stop & Shop’s New York-metro division, division spokeswoman Arlene Putterman told Drug Store News. One of the stores was in Long Island, N.Y., another was in Brooklyn and two were in New Jersey; the division has 184 stores total. Putterman said the stores would open periodically, starting the week of Nov. 5. Suzi Robinson, spokeswoman for Stop & Shop’s New England division, said the company had “deep experience” handing natural disasters and that all of the division’s 219 stores stayed open.
  • Supervalu closed all of the 117 Acme stores in the path of the storm on Monday, the day the storm made landfall, but had reopened all but four of them. “We want to make sure that anything we do really helps the communities that we serve,” Supervalu spokesman Mike Siemienas told DSN. “Our top priority right now is making sure that all of our stores that we can get up and running for the community are. And then we’ll work to see what community needs we may be able to assist with.”
  • Sears Holdings, which operates the Sears and Kmart chains, had 187 stores closed at the height of the storm, but as of Nov. 1, that number was down to 40, while 20 were operating on generators or had generators en route, a representative of the company told DSN. The company announced that it would give out $350 million in rewards to Shop Your Way cardholders living in affected areas, amounting to $20 per cardholder. The company was also shipping extra supplies like flashlights, batteries, generators and sump pumps to stores.
  • ShopRite had 27 stores that remained closed at press time, but all its warehouses and distribution centers were fully operational and delivering products to stores “as quickly as possible to ensure our customers’ needs are met during this difficult time,” according to the company.
  • Target had reopened all of the stores affected by press time and also announced a donation of $500,000 in money and goods for storm-relief efforts, including $425,000 to the American Red Cross, $50,000 to the Salvation Army and $25,000 in gift cards.
  • Walmart had four stores that remained closed as of Nov. 2, but had pledged $1.5 million in relief efforts. The company said it was “working closely” with the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and Feeding America and also donating truckloads of water, food and other basic items and providing charging stations at Sam’s Club stores for members of the public without electricity to charge cell phones and other devices.

PHARMACEUTICALS: Grocery stores have become major distribution points for pharma and in many markets drug stores are among the top five sources for groceries, so the reports above and below involve both pharma and food.

  • CVS/pharmacy closed “up to 800” stores ahead of the storm due to mandatory evacuation orders, and 60 remained closed at press time due to evacuations or power outages, spokesman Mike DeAngelis told DSN, and 90 were operating on generators. At the same time, 100 were operating without power, meaning they were operating in an “off-line mode” without generators. About 15 stores in New York and New Jersey experienced either a total inventory loss due to water damage or couldn’t be reached for a damage assessment, but the company has donated more than $100,000 to the American Red Cross National Disaster Relief Fund to provide support to affected communities and is distributing $50,000 worth of snacks and bottled water in New Jersey.
  • Rite Aid closed 790 stores at the height of the storm, and 188 remained closed or were operating without power as of Oct. 31. In addition, eight stores sustained “substantial damage,” and the company expected that number to increase as field leaders gained access to more locations, but the company was re-opening stores “as quickly as possible.” The Rite Aid Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm, donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross for relief efforts.
  • Walgreens closed 750 stores ahead of the hurricane, and as of Nov. 2, about 130 remained closed in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The company began stocking extra items like nonperishable foods, water, batteries and flashlights, as well as arranging special transportation and lodging for employees who depend on public transit and preparing 160 portable generators for rapid deployment to stores as needed and dry ice for medicines requiring refrigeration. The company also donated $250,000 to the American Red Cross for storm-relief efforts and three semitrailers full of bottled water to a Red Cross center in New Jersey.

Elsewhere I have argued that the difference between a catastrophic and a non-catastrophic event is often a matter of supply chain resilience.   There are places where delivery of emergency supplies by Red Cross or others is absolutely necessary.  But no emergency supply system can effectively provide for a multi-million person metro area.  The persistence and adaptability of key supply chains, especially water, food, and pharmaceuticals, are foundational to effective response and recovery.


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Comment by William R. Cumming

November 3, 2012 @ 5:08 am

Terrific post! And always remembering that this was a CAT 1 landfalling in New Jersey not a 3,4, or 5 landfalling on STATEN ISLAND I can conclude that this was a near run thing for NYC. Yet the struggle to cancel the NYC Marathon demonstrates to me the triumph of good sense as the true damage assessments for the NYC area continue to flood in to response centers. IMO an order suggesting voluntary evacuation of various geographic areas even now would be appropriate and up to one month. With access and egress controls limited to responders as much as possible in key geographic areas.

I was interested in the water systems portions of the post and wondering does this also incorporate sewage

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 3, 2012 @ 6:05 am


treatment plants as being undisrupted? I ask because my sources tell me both water and sewer disrupted in wide spread areas and wondering exactly what EPA and HHS emergency response effort is like. Reforfw

Comment by Philip J. Palin

November 3, 2012 @ 7:17 am

Bill: There are wastewater treatment problems. Biggest is releasing 500 million gallons of raw sewage per day into Newark Bay. I’ve read of at least ten treatment facilities that were knocked out of commission by Sandy and releasing untreated effluent. I expect there were many more. At least four are still non-operational.

Comment by Responsible Decision-making

November 3, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

…and NEXT a coastal nor’easter – slow moving – yes, s l o w moving…a concern of DHS and FEMA and whomever else is supposed to care despite their indifference and apathy…probably Not for they so ineffective and politically corrupt maybe even more so that the corrupt one at the UN Barry Obama chose to carryt his – blatant lie – …..what a bunch of outrageous actions –

Getting back to the next storm which will be in no way a comparison to sandy, however….

….a hugger in low pressure cyclone of the coast off north carolina churing waters not to the extent of sandy, yet a storm which will undoubtedly cause issues along the coast with differing winds and not the high tides we saw as Sandy whipped the coast, however a storm which will affect many all the way into central New England w/far less potential punch, however given the failure and the unpreparedness which is to no surprise, heavy rain and gusty winds will further exacerbate and while the weather will warm up for the weekend, it does not take a Meteorologist to look at the calendar and see the prospects for heavy weather over the next ensuing weeks – while we shall see a new Persident Romney elected – his oath in pledge does not happen until January so it is essential that we do whatever we can to help supply whatever we can muster despite our own broken wallets here on “Main Street USA” as a result of a failed WH, however we must also demand that US military in substantial numbers utilize their expertise and training NOW for freezing weather and snows will be falling temps and precip and this unfortuante scenario will turn out far worse –

Now to a full “Benghazi Congressional Hearing” which is next on our prioroty list for any and all Homeland Security discussions other than the increasing AQ training camps and influence throughout the Middle East posing a hugh challenge for us given this travesty of a WH and State willingly and knowingly in – blatant lie – and a WH so willing to apologize and bow to Saudi King, to allow our Ambassador and our brave soldiers to be murdered whil they sit and watch and embark Air Force One to Las Vegas and sleep while We are under 911 prepplanned attack –

“Treason I Shout and Shame on You I Say” – christopher tingus, cape cod, ma

As a Citizen of these beloved United States, I have suggested to Congressional membership that I shouild be allowed under my Citizen’s Arrest Right to serve both the Barry Obama and Hillary Clinton with a “Citizen’s Arrest for suspicion of treason as a result of their – breach in faith – in parallel with my demand for a full “Benghazi Congressional Hearing” to convene immediately –

Water – Food – and Pharma and ya know, Barry Obama before departing from so many fellow citizens in despair stating that bid daddy government will be there with immediate response – what a travesty, what a hoax and clarity to all that Barry Obama has not a clue whatsoever to lead in every way and simply because he has never had the experience to do so….What a fool and a DHS and FEMA so political in its ways and a WH and State who we saw shoulder to shoulder on Pakistani television in blatent lie – How Dare You!

I knew about this torm a week in advance advising folks who I knew in the area of an evolving event which could well be significant and I am no weather expert, where were DHS/FEMA and others besides the WH and State for they were too busy telling their lies – one mistake which Barry and Hillary Will regret, pointing finger and blaming intel folks – this will be your demise for our Patriots at NSA and other who watch over us daily and nightly…your arrogance and blame towards the intelligence community was plain stupid and you will be called for a full accounting of your ill intent –

When we talk about issues such as water – food – and pharma and when we see such real disconnect promoted by these continued empty rehetorical orations with teh impressive Presidential jacket on or the FEMA label, how outright bogus, how so ineffective and very soon cold, ice and snow will cover the beach, the buildings and our own people and like the Ambassador and the three brave Patriots, most likely we have one or two drones parked over NYC and NJ as all sit and watch much like at the WH situation room on 911 –

Christopher Tingus
“Main Street USA”
Independent Voters of Cape Cod
skype: christopher.tingus

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 4, 2012 @ 2:04 am

Stories circulating that Staten Island Borough President Molinari refused efforts by
ARC to get signed agreement over last few years on basis NOT NEEDED!

The Ray Nagin school of public administration?

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 5, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

A reminder that the MASS Care ESF #6 no longer has ARC in lead only in support of FEMA.

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November 8, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

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