Crisis Management Coordination
Hurricane Sandy hit Jersey City, N.J., hard in 2012, but thanks to four days of intensive advanced planning, PREIT Services LLC’s Director of Risk Management Richard Pcihoda and his team were able to get a reconstruction crew deployed at its Hudson Mall the morning after the storm struck.
“The night before the storm was underway, we had continuous communication with all of our properties in the mall and our service providers,” said Pcihoda. “We also had a command group that stayed here in Philadelphia within the corporate office overnight.”
Once the storm struck, it was important to have someone in a forward position who could relay information back, Pcihoda said.
“I immediately jumped in my truck and ran up to Jersey City and got there early enough in the day that a lot of people were still hunkered down from the night before,” Pcihoda said. “I was there in advance of formal travel bans.”
By the time community panic grew, about 18 hours later, PREIT had a truckload of fuel on-site, and dumpsters, food and sanitation facilities in place, Pcihoda said. Remediation work began within 72 hours.
In the end, the mall suffered millions of dollars of damage, but because of the advance planning and swift set-up, PREIT was able to reopen the Hudson Mall 17 days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall.
An enormous amount of construction was completed in that period, via a trusted vendor with whom PREIT, a real estate investment trust specializing in differentiated shopping malls, had extensive prior dealings.
As a result, the mall and its tenants had a successful holiday season.
Michael Tiagwad, president and COO of Conner Strong and Buckelew, PREIT’s insurance broker, said Pcihoda is “very big on preparedness and anticipating issues and problems, and having a game plan and how to deal with a variety of situations.”
“I’d say, in general, Richard is a consummate risk manager. He has experience with all sorts of risks and exposures.
“He also has a very deep background in safety and claims,” Tiagwad added. “So he really is diverse in terms of his skills. He’s a good quarterback and he is a very engaged person, very proactive.”
PREIT’s insurance claim proceeded swiftly and smoothly, with Pcihoda coordinating with the national flood insurance program as well as PREIT’s property carrier, Fireman’s Fund.
Fireman’s provided a senior adjuster with whom Pcihoda had worked with in the past, and the 10-year relationship paid off nicely.
There was also a public adjuster to help catalog the damages, and handle a massive documentation effort, which freed Pcihoda and his team to focus on recovery.
Pamela Hans, managing shareholder in the Philadelphia office of Anderson Kill P.C., and PREIT’s insurance coverage counsel, said the business income loss at the mall was much smaller than anticipated.
The large upfront investment in reconstruction, facilitated by prompt advances from the insurance company, paid off for all parties in the form of a smaller long-term loss and claim, Hans said.
The claim was completed and paid in full by May 2014, a tight timeframe for a claim of that scale, she said.
Richard is also being recognized as a 2014 Responsibility Leader.
Running to the Fight
Maybe it’s his history in emergency management and current service as a volunteer firefighter that gives Richard Pcihoda the reflexes to run to the fight, because that is what he did as Superstorm Sandy threatened in October of 2012.
Not only did Pcihoda conduct the necessary planning and preparation to reduce his own company’s business interruption, he went out of his way to counsel his company’s Jersey City (N.J.) Hudson Mall tenants on coverage and recovery methods after the mall suffered millions in damage.Pcihoda, the director of risk management for the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, based in Philadelphia, wasn’t the only risk manager whose job got a lot tougher when Sandy hit, but it looks like he outperformed many of his contemporaries.
Pcihoda looked at the whole picture and acted on it. The day after the storm struck, Pcihoda jumped in his truck and drove to Jersey City, getting there before formal travel bans were in place to jump start the recovery process.
He had his contractors in place ahead of the storm to get a jump on reconstruction. He had the adjuster relationships to pull it together seamlessly.
Pcihoda is a Risk All Star because he possesses passion, creativity and perseverance. He’s a Responsibility Leader® because through his actions, he shows others how it’s done.
Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and/or passion.
Responsibility Leaders overcome obstacles by doing the right thing over the easy thing to find practical solutions that benefit their co-workers and community.