When Hurricane Sandy, unofficially known as Superstorm Sandy, made landfall near Brigantine, New Jersey, as a Category Two storm with hurricane force winds and an enormous storm surge, it became one of the deadliest and most destructive storms on record. While total damage estimates exceeded $6 billion, for marina and boat owners, the estimates were equally staggering with more than $650 million in boat losses and more than 65,000 boats and 500 marinas damaged or destroyed.
No sooner had the storm hit than it was gone, leaving marina and boat owners wondering not only how they would recover from the devastation but how long it would take to rebuild. The boating industry has a huge economic impact on the region, so getting marinas rebuilt and operational quickly was critical to many people’s livelihoods. A number of resilient marina owners began assessing the damage and determining what was needed to get their marinas repaired and ready for the coming boating season. They called Sullivan Flotation Systems, headquartered in Warwick, New York, for help. Sullivan originally built many of these damaged marinas, so the company was very familiar with every design and construction detail. For those damaged marinas not built by Sullivan, the owners trusted Sullivan’s reputation for quality and dependability in building floating dock systems in the region.
Quick Design and Rebuild
At most marinas, the docks were entirely destroyed, which meant that the owners not only had to replace the dock system, but also all the anchor piling and utilities, such as electric, water and sewage pumpout. The cost to replace these utilities can sometimes double the price of the project and add significant time to the production schedule. Plus, since all of the utilities must be installed in the field, the ability of the builder’s team to coordinate installation schedules with other contractors played a key role in meeting critical deadlines.
Steve Sullivan, president of Sullivan Flotation Systems and Larry Dubs, Sullivan’s Regional Sales Manager knew the demand after Sandy would present significant challenges for its production team. Sullivan’s team spent the first six weeks after the storm visiting damaged facilities to work out design and production details, while the factory quickly added design and construction crews, made advance purchases of long lead time materials, secured commitments from materials vendors and committed to working seven days a week to meet the urgent requests for new dock systems and structures totaling more than 1,000 slips. Every marina owner wanted to be back in business for the spring 2013 boating season. Sullivan said, “By the time construction permits and insurance issues were worked out, we were dealing with a very short window of several months to get everyone operational for the spring boating season.”
Once all the design details were finalized, Sullivan’s project managers were confronted with the challenging situation of having to manage multiple fast-tracked emergency projects. It also had to coordinate with numerous contractors and owners during a period when weather is always a major factor. With flexible project management practices, Sullivan’s team was able to quickly adjust each marina’s production schedule as conditions warranted. When unforeseen delays occurred on one project, resources would immediately shift to another project.
The seven-acre manufacturing facility at Sullivan Flotation Systems with four separate buildings and manufacturing teams operate as many as six or more projects under construction at the same time and provided a huge advantage in meeting the enormous demand. Sullivan is also accustomed to intense seasonal demands, so its business model and facilities have evolved to put it in a position where it can ramp up quickly when needed. It also designs and fabricates all of its own steel components in-house, giving it much more control over parts availability.
After Superstorm Sandy, calls for help immediately came from the following marinas:
- Channel Club Marina, a large, popular marina in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey, utilized fixed piers that were almost completely destroyed. During the design process the owners decided to make an upgrade to their new floating system by installing IPE hardwood deck. The new marina has 140 slips for boats ranging from 30 to 100 feet, a fuel dock and floating wave attenuator. Rebuilt and operational by April 1, 2013.
- Atlantis Marina in Staten Island, New York, was completely destroyed. The owners chose a molded southern pine deck surface for the new floating dock system. The marina has slips for 130 boats ranging from 25 to 70 feet with interior pile guides. Rebuilt and operational by March 1, 2013.
- Oceanic Marina in Rumson, New Jersey, chose IPE hardwood decking for the new docks. The marina has slips for 110 boats ranging from 20 to 45 feet with fiberglass piles and a fixed breakwater. Rebuilt and operational by April 1, 2013.
- Rumson Country Club & Marina also chose IPE hardwood decking for the docks and slips for 45 boats ranging from 30 to 50 feet with a wave attenuator and kayak dock. Rebuilt and operational by May 1, 2013.
- Raritan Marina in Lawrence Harbor, New, Jersey, needing slips for 130 boats ranging from 25 to 45 feet using a 24-inch freeboard. Rebuilt and operational by May 15, 2013.
- Lockwood Marina in South Amboy, New Jersey, needed docks and slips for 40 boats ranging from 35 to 40 feet. Rebuilt and operational by May 1, 2013.
- Morgan’s Marina in South Amboy, New Jersey, needed docks and slips for 135 boats ranging from 20 to 45 feet. Rebuilt and operational by May 1, 2013.
- Molly Pitcher Inn Marina in Red Bank, New Jersey, needed to replace docks and slips for 20 for 50-foot boats along with two floating wave attenuators. Rebuilt and operational by May 1, 2013.
- Navesink Marina in Navesink, New Jersey, needed repairs to docks and slips for 120 boats ranging in size from 30 to 60 feet plus a fuel dock. Rebuilt and operational by February 15, 2013.
- Surf City Marina in Surf City, New Jersey, needed to replace docks and 40 slips for 25-foot boats along with a new fuel dock. Rebuilt and operational by April 15, 2013.
- Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, needed to replace docks and slips for 120 boats ranging from 25 to 45 feet. Rebuilt and operational by April 15, 2013.
One of the first marinas to call Sullivan for help was the Channel Club Marina in Monmouth, New Jersey. George Chrysanthopoulos, managing partner for the marina, was thankful for Sullivan’s immediate help and said that “restoring the Channel Club Marina posed numerous challenges and required many difficult decisions. However, after exploring all of our options with the Sullivan team, we decided to replace the damaged fixed docks with Sullivan’s engineered floating dock system and a new wave attenuator and fuel dock. Sullivan provided excellent service with the design, construction and installation support, and its ability to meet our tight schedule during such a busy time is to be commended. The new floating dock system was clearly the right choice both functionally and aesthetically and gone are the maintenance problems and access issues. We along with our slip holders couldn’t be happier with this decision,” Chrysanthopoulos said.
Great Kills Harbor in Staten Island, New York, is protected from the Atlantic Ocean by a narrow section of beach area. When Sandy struck, the ocean overtopped the beach and virtually every marina in the harbor was damaged or destroyed by the record breaking storm surge. It caused the docks to float off the anchor piles sending docks and boats into the surrounding neighborhoods. Atlantis Marina was among the hardest hit and its dock system was a total loss. Within a few days, Sullivan had a crew on-site working with owner Ken Formica and his family to disassemble and clear the damaged docks and debris. Construction of the new docks and site clearing occurred simultaneously so when the site was clear the new docks immediately began to arrive. Since the steel piles were still in place and undamaged, Sullivan’s designers modified the dock system so that it could be installed around the existing piles. Because the original pile footprint was inside the structural framework of the dock, special pile guides and openings had to be designed so that the docks could fit around the piles and be field finished. Atlantis Marina was the first marina in the harbor to be fully operational after the storm.
Sullivan shipped more than 150 truckloads of docks in a five-month period with a local trucking firm that dedicated its fleet almost exclusively to deliver docks seven days a week.
In six months, Sullivan Flotation Systems worked hand-in-hand and with each of these marina owners simultaneously to get them back in business quickly.