Starting a business is a bold venture. You have to be brave to throw your heart, soul, and usually your savings into a start-up, and as an entreprenuer, your thoughts are always crowded with ideas of how to grow your business, best support your employees, and sometimes even just keep the whole ship afloat.
One risk most of the entrepreneurs in the tri-state area probably didn’t anticipate was that of a massive storm which would destroy all of their hard work in one night, but that’s exactly what happened to many small businesses during superstorm Sandy. One neighborhood that was particularly hard hit was that of Red Hook, in Brooklyn.
This story is particularly personal to those of us here at The Good Men Project because one of our own, Jackie Summers, is an entrepreneur who has poured his soul into his new business—Jack from Brooklyn. Along with his partners Rich and Alan, Jackie produces one of the most innovative spirits on the market, Sorel. During the storm, the Sorel distillery was flooded with over 5 feet of sea water, and everything was destroyed.
CNN Money was present at a meeting of Red Hook business owners where they discussed options being offered devastated businesses in the neighborhood:
Jackie Summers is in the same bind. He’s the CEO and co-founder of Jack from Brooklyn, an artisanal spirits business that launched just five months ago. On Monday, his entire inventory and all of his equipment were destroyed.
With no flood insurance and few resources for his young, cash-financed business to draw on, he’s trying to figure out where to even start rebuilding
“What keeps us afloat is selling stuff,” Summers said. “We stop selling, the coffers go dry immediately.”
Jackie’s neighbors were similarly destroyed, and most didn’t carry flood insurance, which is prohibitively high in Red Hook and many other neighborhoods. CNN Money explains:
Risk modeling firm Eqecat estimates that Sandy’s economic damage will be as high as $50 billion, of which only $10 billion to $20 billion will be covered by insurers.
That leaves a huge gap — one that could swallow many of the businesses in hard-hit and economically fragile neighborhoods.
“Operating in this neighborhood is a labor of love. It’s not something you do for money,” said St. John Frizell, chain-smoking outside his Red Hook restaurant, Fort Defiance, as volunteers hosed down tables and hauled gear out of the soggy basement.
Rebuilding New York and other states devastated by Sandy will be labor of love, but Red Hook is already pouring their hearts and souls into project. As Jackie and his partners at Jack from Brooklyn explain, “It is a disaster. Only a communal effort will keep it from becoming a catastrophe. Unity makes strength.”
Do you want to help rebuild Red Hook? Here are a few organizations where you can volunteer or offer financial support, and of course The American Red Cross is offering support to everyone affected by the storm:
To donate money, visit: Red Hook Initiative
To volunteer or support Red Hook volunteers, visit: Red Hook Recovers
To support Jack From Brooklyn directly, visit Go Fund Me
To buy a bottle or two of Sorel, visit The Manhattan Cocktail Classic site
Follow Jackie Summers on Twitter at @JackfromBkln