Adam's Superstorm Sandy Update: The value of a phone and social media realized

Adam Zeis, Left
By Adam Zeis on 1 Nov 2012 12:09 pm EDT

Adam Zeis at left at BBJam Americas.. when he had plenty of battery life. 

Believe it or not, I'm writing this on my BlackBerry. It may be the last thing I do before my battery dies, so it might even get cut short before my intended conclusion. As I write this I'm on my living room couch drinking a cup of instant coffee (I've had worse), wearing a giant wool hat and while the room is hovering at around 55 degrees.

In case you didn't know, the East Coast got hit by a crazy big storm this weekend. Hurricane Sandy is one of the biggest we've ever seen, and for the second year in a row my family and I are not only left with a rescheduled Halloween, but also without power. Unlike last year however, no one I know has power either, so we're all stuck on our own until things get back to normal. The good? Thankfully I have my BlackBerry Bold 9900, iPhone and PlayBook to keep me informed. The bad? All my batteries are almost dead.

I started out with a New Trent 18000mAH external battery to charge all my goodies. Its been working like a champ so far but I can only assume it too has little juice left. Thank goodness for car chargers. When we get to that point, we'll have to sit in the car for a bit to get juiced up.

So far the only real connection I have to what's going on outside is through text messages with family and friends as well as Twitter and Facebook.

Lots of people take social media sites for granted, but I can't express how thankful I am for them during a natural disaster. Not only did I know when and where Sandy would hit by me, but in the aftermath I also know where I can get water and ice, find gas (nowhere near me without a 2hr wait in line), a rough idea of when my power will be back, how my family and friends are fairing and what my county is doing to help families recover.

For a few hours after the storm, phone calls were crap. Most wouldn't connect at all and others would drop off mid-conversation. Text, Facebook and BBM kept me chatting with people so I knew everyone's status. Web browsing hasn't been the greatest but I have been able to get up to speed on news about the storm.

Last year we were left without power for nearly five days. This year we're going on three so far with an expected 5-7 to go before we get it back. Power and tree crews numbering in the thousands drove in from all over the country to help things get back up and running.

So what's the point Adam? Is this a sob story? No, its not. The point is that until now, I didn't realize just how valuable my BlackBerry (or any phone) can be in a time like this. Also how amazing Twitter is for staying informed. In my hand I have a tool that keeps me in touch with "the outside world" while I stay in my house, tending to my kids and keeping them warm and fed until we get back up and running.

Oh, and yes, I do plan on shaving today so I can start my Movember goatee. I'm going to nickname my beard Sandy for obvious reasons and it's going to be fierce.

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

Adam's Superstorm Sandy Update: The value of a phone and social media realized


Adam's text sent to me 10 minutes after he emailed the story...

"Emailed post to you. Not sure if it went through. Service is terrible. Really sorry about all this shit. I know you probably wanna fire me at this point."

Got the email Adam.. and no, you're not getting fired. But we all miss you and hope your power comes back up and everything gets back to normal soon! Good luck on MOVEMBER!

Hang in there Adam (and Alicia and everyone else in Mobile Nations both staff and readers that were effected by the storm). Soon it will all be a bad memory, at least until the next time. <3

Calm down guys, I'm sure Adam meant it as a bitter joke given his situation

You guys taking it so seriously is a bit insulting to Kevin in the least lol

I saw him write something along the lines of don't fire me on twitter as well so he is obviously worried on some level at least.

HAHA. Of Course I'm kidding. And Adam's not worried. He's my brother from another mother. Besties for life. And you don't fire your bestie bros. You just joke about it.

If u really think hes really the slightest bit worried you must be crazy.. Why would he be? & why would you think Kevin would fire him?? NJ is in a state of emergency i live in NJ also if your lucky enough to even find a gas station open it will have a line for miles if their letting cars in.. Most are only letting people fill up gas containers. I waited 3 hours today to fill my 5 gallon gas can. I heard of alot of other people waiting even longer only to be turned away when they get somewhat close to the front because the station ran out of gas. Its crazy out here.. Im just glad everyone i know is safe & im one of the lucky ones to actually have electricity

PS Hang in there Adam.. Its slowly starting to get better.. Glad you & your family are safe.. If your near union county you & your family are more then welcome to come by & recharge or just hang out.

Thanks for letting us know how your are doing and what you are learning Adam! I have been worndering how the CB "fambly" was fairing in the storm. Hope you get power soon. It is such a good invention!

Suggestion: People all over the world need to know how to squeeze all we can out of technology in times of service interruptions due to disaster, war, whatever. When life is good again would you mind writing about what you learned, what you saw others struggling with and then invite CB members to include their lessons learned in comments? When people are stressed, they need that kind of info fast. So a compilation of tips that is easy to find in CB and on the Web would be useful to a lot of people.

I have forwarded the tips written on CB in the last couple of years to people in an earthquake that are on different OS because there is still good advice. So even a link in the summary to similar articles across Mobile Nations would be useful.

Stay safe man. We didn't get hit to hard in Massachusetts but I know people in nj that are homeless now.

Hope you the wife and cassidy make it through ok.

Certainly you have more pressing matters to attend to but... I was wondering, did your Emergency Alert Messages go off on your BlackBerry by chance? I still have yet to see it go off on mine (Ohio, Verizon) or did RIM just say if you can't see the storm you are already S.O.L.?

Good luck and god speed Adam!

I know the feeling Brother. Louisiana Gulf Coast (inland / Baton Rouge) here, was without contact with my employer for almost 5 days on Hurricane Isaac and it does feel as if your "scamming" a bit, but good bosses understand. My employer has to deal with the same as me - he is on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. One storm he gets it bad, next storm I get it bad.

One of our key company employees lives coastal New Jersey, has a beach-front place and one a little farther inland. Sent us a load of pictures. Devastating! Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected.

CB - how about an Emergency Preparedness Special from the CrackBerry store? Maybe some specials on solar chargers, batteries, car chargers, power inverters, etc. Maybe 10% or 20% partnership: 5% or 10% off for us, and matching 5% or 10% to relief agencies?

I'd spring for one of the Solio packages!

So a person is going to use the last of the battery life to play blogger and social (media) butterfly? To say this conveys misplaced priorities is putting it very mildly. I think the point of that battery is to ensure that you can still make a call in case of an emergency! Good to know that the cyber universe is still up to date, if someone gets critically injured and you can't call for help because the batteries are dead. Here is something to ponder. If a battery is dead and you can't update the social media world, it will still be there when you can recharge the battery. If a person is dead, you can't just recharge them or switch to a new identity in an online gaming profile. Embarrassingly misplaced priorities doesn't even begin to touch this article....

^^ Take it easy. If you read the article, you should have picked up the vibe that Adam and his fam are ok and that he has the situation under control. If someone was in a life or death situation I'm sure he wouldn't be writing a blog post on his BlackBerry. You should be happy he is in a situation where he was able to do that. Use your head and be thankful you have power.

Glad to hear all is (mainly) well Adam, stay safe!

I am sure he has other means of contacts for emergencies. For example, his wife's phone. Maybe he has a car charger, so when it gets too low, he can charge it with that (if he has a car and it isn't damaged). Maybe just that battery and he has a spare battery that is available but won't be used at all.

The point is, I am sure he didn't use all his means of communication on this. I think you read too much into it. I hope you did at least!

Wow! That kind of self-assured judgmentalism might not serve you well and certainly does not fit with the CB culture.

I have had to deal with someone with that kind of thinking. I won't mention any names, but his initials were Fidel Castro. It sort of feels like you are saying: "I am all-knowing, I have decided what is right for you, you shall comply or I will take a baseball bat to you."

That said, perhaps you are very young and just need some growth. I can certainly think of times in my past when I felt certain about something and rather judgmental. Then someone added to my thinking (gently or not) and my perspective was able to evolve. I wish you well on that journey. Just be a little more respectful with you opinions on this site, please.

In this day and age, keeping people informed via social media might be more effective than making a phone call. Yes, when it comes to emergency, nothing is more important than being able to make a phone call but all the social media effort along the way probably adds up to be more important. Just my $0.02

Ummm I live in milford,PA and its going on day 5 of no power. And its freezing outside. I'm using my Blackberry to mess around on Facebook,crackberry, and I have 2 cars (each with it own chArger) and a cig power converter with normal household plug connections. I'm also into car audio so I have extra car batteries wired up. Planning is what its all about. Have I misplaced my priorities?

Hope you and your family are all OK and are safe.

Like eve6er69 said, Massachusetts didn't get hit too hard, but it was still really bad with trees down and such... and we were not even close to the eye of the storm! It was that far away and just the edge was slightly less powerful than last years Irene over here (that hit us dead on). When I think of last years hurricane with a direct hit and this year's "swipe" of Sandy... it really puts in respective the severity of the hit NJ took.

Stay safe and thanks for the post (thats dedication!).

* BlackBerry by choice *
Adam, glad you and your family are safe. I don't know anyone on the east coast other than you if that counts and when I heard that Jersey was probably getting th worst of it I immediately thought of you and your family. Look forward to your return and hope you all pull through fast with as little hardship as possible.

Where in NJ are you ADAM? I'm actually lucky enought to have power on my street..but most strrets & surrounding towns in union county don't.. I had to go get some things we ran out of & after searching for gas for hours my car ran outta gas the next tiwn over from me so I had to leave it there.. Gonna go get a ride & see if any stations around are doin any better today. Good luck everyone

I (or more accurately, my lady) learned the lesson when the Dericho storm hit my area this past summer. We were without electricity for 30 hours. I got approval to put in the standby generator I had been lobbying for. Sandy knocked out our power for 30 hours but we barely noticed.

While these unusual weather events have happened throughout history and will happen again, the USA used to have a well built electric grid. With the idiot politicians, greens and nimby, we no longer have the generating capacity, distribution lines and substations needed for redundancy. Get used to more and longer power outages. Or, get smart and put in the needed backup systems.

too bad cell phones rely on cell towers and when they go down all over, you're still screwed... really hard getting calls out here in the parts of Brooklyn I've been visiting.

Good luck Adam and the family! Can't wait to have you back!

P.S. If Adam gets fired, I'm leaving CB :P

Being in Jersey, this is the worst storm I have ever seen. The town I live in is lucky to have had power through most of the storm and the days after. Everywhere around us there are town with no power, some without water, others both. I also work down the shore and most towns are destroyed. Residents there are looking at another 7-10 days with no power. Some beach areas are still under water. NYC is flooded in parts and have no power. subways and tunnels are also completely flooded. Last i saw on a ny news channel there was a hospital being evacuated yesterday. It is a mess. The extreme winds and storm surges causing more problems then the rains.
Tuesday after the storm we only had SOS service for the day. Since we had power and internet we were able to bbm and email. Bridge has also been helpful. Last i heard, the shopping center by me had finally gotten power and people were sitting on the floor in barnes and noble to connect to the wifi.
Adam and family, keep warm and safe. Hope your power gets turned back on soon. Wouldnt you know it........there goes my power. Sheesh.

Yeah last year we were hit by Irene. We had no power. But I was able to bridge my PlayBook to my phone and watch the radar to know when the worst of the storm had passed. It was comforting.

Could be. Vodka will keep you warm in a 55f room lol.
I’d rather be a Black Sheep than an iSheep any day.

I feel your pain Adam. We still have no power in PA, we're staying with my sister Uptown Manhattan. I've never seen anything like this before. Stay safe everyone.

Glad to hear that you and your family are in relative safety. Glad to hear that you're doing okay and that you see something positive around all the negativity going on.

Keep on taking care of your family!

God Speed!

Been there myself Adam. We lost our home in a tornado a few years back. The only thing that got us thru was my BB Storm.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.