It was business as normal for Greencore’s US production plant at Newburyport, Massachusetts on Monday morning (October 29) – with some concessions to safety – while the worst storm in living memory bore down on the country’s lower eastern seaboard.
A spokesman for Greencore based at the site, located 40 miles from Boston, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “Business is rolling 100% – just as usual. Production has not been affected. But it’s very windy and the rain is a-coming.”
While the manufacture of chilled convenience food at the plant was unaffected, distribution to New York, which lies directly in the path of Superstorm Sandy, was affected by the closure of transport networks across the eastern part of the county.
“The 200 people who work at the site will go home early to be safe,” said the spokesman. “But, I live 30 minutes away and I’m gonna stay to the end.”
‘I’m gonna stay to the end’
Asked if he was concerned about the impending storm, the spokesman said: “Yeah, I’m worried.”
The Newburyport site is a leading supplier of chilled convenience food in the north east region of the US.
A UK-based spokesman for Greencore told FoodManufacture.co.uk yesterday (October 30): “I am pleased to report that our Boston facility was unaffected by Superstorm Sandy and there are no reports of injuries or damage to our facilities. Fortunately the Boston region got off relatively lightly in comparison with some of the other regions.
“There have been a few isolated incidents where were unable to reach some of our customers today due to road blockages, but we expect everything to be back to normal as far as our supply chain is concerned tomorrow.”
But others were less lucky. At least 40 people were killed, millions lost power and transport networks were disrupted after the hurricane made landfall and became a superstorm.
Thousands of people in low-lying areas in New Jersey and New York were ordered to leave their homes.
A storm surge of nearly 14ft (4.2m) swept into lower Manhattan swamping the subway system.
Also, transatlantic flights between Europe and north America were cancelled and trading suspended on the New York Stock Exchanges. Campaigning in the US presidential elections, due to take place on November 6, had also been placed on hold.
President Barack Obama told reporters: “The election will take care of itself next week. Right now our number one priority is to make sure we’re saving lives, that our search and rescue teams are going to be in place, that people are going to get the food, the water, the shelter they need in case of emergency and that we respond as quickly as possible to get the economy back on track.”
Obama has signed eight emergency declarations covering the states of: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Maryland and District of Columbia.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced.”
Meterologists explained that the severity of the storm was caused by Superstorm Sandy coinciding with cold weather fronts from the west and north and abnormally high tides caused by the full moon.