Jose Thomas

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Friday 16th November, 2012



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As my plane touched down at The JFK International Airport at New York City on a beautiful October afternoon I could see the sun beaming down on that spectacular NYC Skyline and it brought a certain warmth to my heart- I was back in my second home! As I walked through the hallways towards the immigration area my mind started to wander and I started to ask myself, “What goals do I want to achieve during this visit”. Unlike my usual visits to America, this trip was a rather lengthy one; close to two months. So I decided to do something different from my usual routines which were meetings, meetings, and more meetings! I decided to invest sometime into improving my culinary skills which happens to be one of my biggest passions. Every time I land in this country, I either make a wish or have a plan in place. This time, I had great business plans plus this little culinary idea that crept into my “TO DO LIST”.

After I settled into my apartment with my family located right on the Hudson River overlooking the Manhattan Skyline I felt great and started to review my goals. Somehow during this trip it looked like I was going to end up doing something different. For almost fifteen days, all through the day and night I got confined to the kitchen cooking various cuisines for my family and myself right from Japanese to Indian. My cooking skills started to improve tremendously day by day and as I was listening to the news I started to hear about HURRICANE SANDY. What is Sandy?? Then I was told…’s a hurricane coming our way… And I said, “Oh! We have to start preparing”. As a result I was forced to stay home for super storm “Sandy”. Here we go!! A wish or a plan accomplished at a cost. The cost of …… terrible Sandy!!

On October 29, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. This is a topic I want to enlighten you all on a little more as this was an unforgettable life experience for me and everyone in America. A week prior to this tragedy, the Government and the media started to alert everyone about the seriousness of this hurricane. Generally, the American people over-react to such situations as it has happened in the past and they like to be precautious. This panic drove everyone to the super markets where they bought everything right from basic necessities such as drinking water to canned foods to bread- anything that was non-perishable and would stay fresh without electricity because they were anticipating a power outage. I thought they were over reacting, but they knew what they were doing. A few of my friends here warned me to stock up on food and water before the super markets ran out of everything.

During this time my family was here with me and my youngest son, who is at times aggressive, kept telling me “Dad, take it easy. This is not a big deal”. He said “We come from Cochin, India… we see heavy rain and stormy weather almost every day during the monsoon season”. My son influenced me a little but however, as a responsible father and of course as a matter of good leadership I decided to stock up my house with all supplies from food to torch lights. At this time I was living in my apartment, right on the Hudson River and this was one of the areas that were under mandatory evacuation. I consulted many people and they advised that it would be better for us to move out of my apartment and shift to our home, which is about 30 miles south of New York City. So we packed up our bags and headed to our home in Monroe. On the way we stopped by the local super markets and to our surprise we walked into stores that had almost empty shelves, but we managed to pick up few bottles of water, dry goods, and a few other provisions. I had a great idea of picking up some fire wood to operate the fire place in our house to provide heating in case of a power outage. I never knew I would have to do so much planning in the United States of America, a country blessed with everything. Imagine me stocking up on supplies such as firewood for heat, food, and batteries for torch lights? As I was preparing for this storm my son still kept telling me “Dad, you are crazy”.

On the morning of the 28th, all offices were ordered to be evacuated, including ours. Our office is located right on the Hudson River where the hurricane was supposed to hit with high intensity. We packed up our basic requirements like laptops, files, and important documents and on we moved to the house, far south.

That morning I got an inner feeling that something was not right. Even our dog, Teddy, started to become very restless. I believe animals can sense such natural calamities even before it has taken place. Sensing the seriousness, I stayed in front of the television most of the time. I started to get frustrated as I am not used to sitting at home, watching television, and relaxing. To overcome all this, I walked into my kitchen, opened up the shopping bags, and got cracking on some cooking. I never realized what I had envisioned about my culinary goals getting accomplished tied to something disastrous- a hurricane. What a coincidence! Looks like it was all predestined otherwise why would I include culinary goals into my “TO DO LIST”? Friends, to me everyone’s life is planned to the very minute aspect. Coming out of all these adversities is called “survival”, and life is all about surviving and making the best use of it. Isn’t it?

On the morning of the 29th, we woke up to see that the sun did not rise to its fullest. It was dark and gloomy with an eerie wind blowing from time to time. I was worried but, my son kept telling me “Dad you’re crazy, nothing is going to happen”. Towards noon, the President of the United States of America started appearing on the television warning people to evacuate their homes in low lying areas, especially New York City and surrounding areas. By 2 o’clock in the afternoon, the government started to shut down bridges, tunnels, train service, schools, and even airports. Close to 14,000 flights were cancelled. Last minute shoppers had to return home with hardly anything as most of the shelves were empty.

As the intensity of the situation started to get more serious, I kept cooking a lot of food for my family to enjoy and stay happy. I put my heart and soul into cooking as I had nothing else to do; no work, no office, and no business to do, as everything was closed. Friends, look at what I was trying to do in this situation. I was trying to stay active and be creative when everything was closed and life came to a halt. Back home in Kerala (India), a general strike announced by the smallest political party causes everyone to stay at home because this is a kind of forced holiday. This preparedness for “Sandy” was not a holiday here. Rather, it was the preparation for the worst situation.


Senior meteorologists from every T.V channel started appearing on television from 5 p.m. onwards re-emphasizing the seriousness of the storm and my family and I started getting really worried. The President, Governors of New York and New Jersey, and Mayors of various cities were all doing unbelievable acts in helping people be aware of the seriousness as well as monitoring the evacuation process.

The hurricane was supposed to hit at about 90 miles per hour at 8 p.m. At 7.45 p.m., I opened the door and went outside my house, but could not see much. It was a very cold night with leaves and branches moving a little more aggressively than what I saw in the afternoon. At 8.15 p.m., the whole scenario changed. My house which is built of wooden structure started to wobble. We could hear parts of our roof getting ripped off due to the high winds! And all of a sudden, the power failed!! Gosh! I have been visiting this country ever since 1973 and I have never experienced a power failure. Power failure in America!! I could not believe it. We were in complete darkness and were petrified seeing what was going on outside.

My dear friends, this was an unforgettable experience! We were out of power for almost nine days (this means no electricity, no heating, and no hot water). My family and I had to stay warm in front of the fireplace since it is winter and the outside temperatures caused the temperature in the house to drop. We got used to many things that we were not used to such as drinking black coffee instead of milk coffee, tap water instead of distilled water. On top of all this, seeing the hardships faced by millions of people who got affected far worse than us was the most painful thing. But let me tell you something, the administration in this country deserves a big salute. Great job!! Their preparedness saved thousands of lives, but damage to physical property was beyond their control. God Bless America!!

I am posting some photographs that I took during this time, including people standing with cans at gas stations waiting for fuel.

I hope a country like India would get into the process of preparedness. I learned something new, a crisis that I have never faced in the past!

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Responses to
 Lakshmi Nair says:
JT, Time and again this proves GOD is there with you as always....I finished reading with tears, don’t know why.. but that’s what happened.. no other comment.. as you said GOD BLESS AMERICA... GOD BLESS YOU... Regards, Lakshmi Nair
 Jacob Mathew says:
Very impressive article Mr.Jose Thomas. You have proved yourself that you are not just a Business Tycoon and Educationist but a very good writer too. Hope one day you will be listed among the classic writers of our community. All the best and keep up your writing Skills......
 Cicy Joseph says:
It was an amazing experience........... thank GOD , He protected you.........
 Jay Pillai says:
Awesome! I like your blog as it always have something to concrete to take from it. It gives us more ideas that we can also apply in our every day life. Thank you. Good to see that you survived through Sandy like all that comes your way. Jay
 Jagath Jayaprakash says:
it was really nice reading and worth watching a short movie.. Thank you for your time taken for preparing this.
 Thomas P Manuel , Sherwin Williams Paints says:
Hi, Read your blog like a good English movie...I could visualize...a man with a vision & plans in the initail it goes by..threat of storm....your son's comments...and you beeing a responsible father...taking care of even small things...collecting fire woods...enjoys cooking..and diverts attention of the family to make the situation cool...finally the terrible sandy arrives...9 dark days...surviving with black coffee..and hardships faced by millions of people....It was very smooth reading..Great !!
 Ratna Jayant G says:
I missed by a few days I left JFK on the 1st Oct. Landed in Dubai and stayed till 12th and returned to Hyd , India on thhe 13th Nov. My wife and daughter are at CL.,OH. I was a bit scared but did know that the Reminderville area usually escapes the wrath of nature. When in NY I stayed at NJ making up/Dn trips..... and was sad to see the loss. Americas will fight back ......I'm sure Now the laedership concentrates on National Issues. Just make all the people get more reassured of the jobs and security issues. God Bless America.
 Priyadharshini Mendis says:
Superb article, so very well written.
 roopa george says:
u r really an inspiration to many.
 Subramanian says:
Through Television and newspapers I realized the havoc and was worried about you, your family and NJ staff. But your article shows that even the destructive situations can be handled for constructive purposes and what all it requires is the mindset. Really very proud of you sir.
 suraj Chellappan says:
Sir you got good writing skills..keep going..God Bless
 Abdul Rasheed says:
Very touching and inspiring,read it as I hear directly from you. Rasheed,Edavanakkad
 satheesh says:
Dear Sir, I read article on Choice Paradise in Vanitha Magazine on line. Then searched your blog thinking that some thing will be there. I could not sleep till completeing my reading on your experiences on Sandy. You are inspiring everyone to achieve something reading, writing, new ideas and many more.. Congrats .
 Jinish says:
Dear Sir Its an inspirational article which helped me to reexamine my goal of life.
 priya mary dominic says:
new experiences and new learnings always only does more good to a person !!!! be it a terrifying one or a happy one !!!! really ! god bless america !!!! :-) they set the right examples for all the other countries on pleat earth to follow suite !
dear sir, your article good. god bless....
 lucy anto says:
nature sends situations like this to make us go back the BASICS once in a while!!!
 Woolrich Jackets says:
Thanks so much for the blog post.Thanks Again.