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Two Managers' Innovative Solutions for Temporary Water and Electricity

Habitat Staff in Building Operations on December 18, 2012

New York City

Dec. 18, 2012

Buildings up to six stories tall generally keep their water tanks filled by simple water pressure. But buildings over six stories cannot, because local water pressure is too weak to raise water to the upper stories. So, these taller buildings each use an electric pump to fill their water tanks. As a result, most tall buildings that were without electricity in the aftermath of Sandy were also without water.


A novel idea to deal with this came from Midboro Management. The firm hired a flatbed truck, attached a portable generator to it and spent two hours at each of its client buildings, using the electrical hookup to refill the water tanks. In such a situation, the water supply usually lasts for one to two days (depending on use) and then the manager can come by and refill the tanks.

It's a pricey solution, however — each visit costs about $1,000 — and boards need to decide whether it's worth the cost. Factors to consider: A large elderly and/or infirm population might benefit.


John Wolf, president of Alexander Wolf & Company, and some of his boards felt it was important to get light and heat to the common areas. Therefore, he delivered three portable home generators to dark properties (he had bought more than a dozen of them before the disaster) to help some of them, including one populated mostly by the elderly, to get limited light and power back for lobbies and hallways for brief intervals.

This allowed charging of cell phones and medical devices — and just as importantly, imparted the psychological benefits of light and a sense of control. Both of these are important points in keeping up morale and fending off despair — unquantifiable but critical elements in reconstructing both your building and your community.


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