PORT MORRIS — Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy paralyzed FreshDirect's online ordering system, disrupted its supply chain and damaged dozens of their refrigerated trucks, the company is scrambling to resume deliveries in time for the Thanksgiving rush.
The online grocer, whose Long Island City headquarters fell within a mandatory storm evacuation zone, has rented temporary vehicles to make up for its lost trucks and has suspended deliveries to some areas as a result of the storm.
“Like many New York City businesses, we were hit very hard by Hurricane Sandy,” the company said in a statement Monday, adding that its full delivery fleet should be restored “over the coming weeks.”
FreshDirect posted a message on its website asking customers to check whether deliveries are currently available to their ZIP code before ordering.
"In areas where we are currently not taking orders, we expect to restore limited service after Thanksgiving," company officials added. FreshDirect declined to specify where those areas are located.
The company moved dozens of its flooded-out trucks to the Harlem River Yard in Port Morris in The Bronx, where it plans to eventually build new headquarters, FreshDirect officials confirmed.
“We hope to have them removed as soon as possible and have been working around the clock to restore our fleet to full strength over the coming weeks,” the statement said.
The decision to park the damaged trucks at the site outraged some Bronx residents who oppose the company’s relocation.
“I live here. I love this community. My wife is about to give birth to our first child here, and yet there are people who think this community is a junkyard,” said Monxo Lopez, who is part of a group that filed a lawsuit to block FreshDirect’s move to The Bronx.
“It has hit me very personally.”
The group, South Bronx Unite, said the company's use of the lot as a storage area for trucks violates a court-ordered agreement that FreshDirect would “maintain the status quo” at the site until after a court hearing in February, according to Lopez.
The company began cancelling orders the Sunday before the storm hit on Oct. 29, since most of its workers rely on public transportation, which the city suspended that evening.
Immediately after the storm, the company’s website, where customers place orders, temporarily shut down because it is hosted by servers in lower Manhattan that were flooded, according to an interview with the company’s CEO on Bloomberg TV.
The company also dealt with backed up supply chains and blocked delivery routes, according to its CEO, Jason Ackerman.
“This is going to be quite a mess to clean up,” Ackerman said during the interview.
Some deliveries resumed later that week, but the most recent message on the company's Facebook page, posted last Thursday, reads, “We're so sorry that we haven't been able to deliver to many of your areas again.
“We hope that you and your loved ones are safe, and we look forward to delivering to you again as soon as we can."