Hurricane Sandy’s October landfall caused more than 100 deaths, racked up billions of dollars in property damage, and for those in the pool and spa industry created a monumental mess.
As many as 200,000 pools and spas in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut were damaged by the violent “superstorm” that barreled into the New York metropolitan area Oct. 29, says Lawrence Caniglia, executive director of the Northeast Spa & Pool Association.
“Because of the storm surge, the way the water washed in, you have not only salt water in the electronic components, which is pretty much a death knell, you also have debris, you have contaminants, you have sewage, you have fecal matter in the pools,” Caniglia said. Thousands of pools sustained serious structural damage. Others were simply washed away.
Even as some NESPA members rebuild their own homes and businesses they will be dealing with a host of environmental, legal and health issues faced by their customers.
To help members get back on their feet and offer customers the best possible assistance, NESPA officials created the Hurricane Sandy Task Force. One of its main goals is to compile information that association members and consumers need to get damaged pools and spas rebuilt and back in working condition.
“We’re still in the fact-finding portion,” says task force chairman Rob Romano, a past NESPA president. “We don’t know what these guys need, because a lot of them, you’ll pardon the expression, are still under water. We’re still trying to find out what they need.”
In the meantime, the association has begun compiling a library of material at its web site (http://www.nespapool.org/hurricane-sandy). In a telephone conference call on December 3, the task force in its initial meeting agreed to pursue information from a variety of sources and add it to the web site as it becomes available. The list includes:
Manufacturers of pumps and heaters for details on how these electric components should be checked and serviced. Electrical wiring damaged by salt water is a related issue.
Insurance carriers and brokers, to help members gather information for customers regarding what is covered under insurance policies.
State and local health departments for information on commercial pools cleanups.
Consumers also will need information on how they can best deal with problems on their own. For example, they may want to drain pools that have been contaminated but may not realize that pumping a pool dry before water tables have dropped could lead to pool pop.
Some of these issues will become topics for blogs at the NESPA web site, or for updates on the association’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“Our goal is to have the best and most accurate information on our site,” Caniglia says. “People can feel some sense of safety that this information has been vetted in the industry and is accurate.”
NESPA also plans to raise money for the American Red Cross’ Hurricane Sandy relief efforts at the Atlantic City Pool & Spa Show by selling clip-on flashlights useful to pool technicians for $10 each. All proceeds will be turned over to the Red Cross.
Even though Atlantic City, New Jersey, suffered damage in the hurricane, its annual trade show will go on as scheduled January 29-31 at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
In addition to its regular seminars, show officials are now planning a special panel discussion Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. to provide information on storm-related repairs. Industry experts and manufacturers already planning to be at the show have agreed to participate, as have members of the Florida Swimming Pool Association’s executive committee who have had experience dealing with hurricane-related pool problems.