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In the early morning of January 17, 1994, my wife and I were awakened by our townhouse being tossed around like a basketball. The Northridge earthquake is an experience I can never forget. We were just 3 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake.

Whenever there is a natural disaster, I can’t help but think of our experience. I was working for my dad at his data processing company in Chatsworth, CA. I had been married less than two years and my wife was pursuing her Master of Counseling at California State University, Northridge.

As any person who has gone through a major natural disaster will tell you, the memories are burned into your mind. Once the sun came up, and we could assess the damage, we realized we were pretty lucky. There were lots of cracks in walls and stucco, no water or electricity, broken glass, tipped over furniture, and our water heater had collapsed on its legs leaving a nice big hole in the wall. But somehow, we were okay.

I went to my dad’s office building and my dad was already there. The water heater on the floor above had been damaged and the pipe burst. Our hallways were all wet. We scrambled to pick up paper, and tilt up shelves and filing cabinets that tipped over. Later that day, I drove “over the hill” to Santa Monica, avoiding freeways as best I could, to deliver a payroll to one of our customers. While they felt the earthquake, they didn’t get it as bad as us and were open for business. Plus, it was payday and the last thing some of the employees who were affected by the earthquake needed was a delayed paycheck.

Many businesses were not as fortunate. Walls and roofs collapsed. Some had severe water damage. The images of collapsed apartment buildings, parking garages, walls and homes are still very clear in my mind. Yet, all those businesses in our community were determined to come back, and they did. However, it took a long time. Many lost customers who went to other vendors because they were temporarily unable to help them.

Support Your Partners

As I see the destruction in Texas and Florida, I have a favor to ask. If a company you do business with was affected by one of these hurricanes, continue to do business with them… even if a shipment might be late, or it takes a little longer to get a hold of someone. In a week or two, this will disappear from the news, but it will only have just begun for these businesses, their employees and families. In many cases, they will work through this over many months and years.

I remember two weeks after the earthquake, we went down to San Diego to visit my in-laws for a weekend to just get away from everything. We had lunch with a friend who said, “I wish they would stop covering the earthquake. I’m getting so sick of it, it’s been two weeks already!” Two weeks is nothing, when it comes to recovery from events like this. Unless you have been through one, you really have no idea of what is involved… personally, professionally and community-wise.

So please be patient with your colleagues, partners, friends and relatives who have been affected by these hurricanes, because the reality of their challenge will continue long after you have moved on to the next news story.

 

Jack Kelly
Jack Kelly
Jack founded the Corlea Group in early 2009 with his first client coming on board in January of that year. Jack loves to coach. He coaches his clients and he helps coach his kid’s teams – it’s his passion and has been for over 25 years as a professional, father and volunteer. Why? Because he likes to help a team succeed.
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