As New York City and the rest of the country strive to return to some form of normal, some insurance companies displaced by the attack on the World Trade Center are still not quite sure what normality will actually be.
St. Paul Re's ($41 billion in assets, St. Paul) offices at 195 Broadway are within one block of the World Trade Center. However, because of the recovery operations, clean-up, investigation and close proximity to buildings that have been deemed not structurally sound, St. Paul's 300 employees have not been able to return to the office building, says Andrew Cole, senior vice president and chief information officer.
St. Paul Re also has not been told when employees will be able to return to work in the New York office, "but we are hoping to return in two weeks' time," Cole says. Although Cole says the company is not looking for other permanent offices, he did say, "if it is determined we can not get into the building for a long time, we may have to look at new space in New Jersey." Currently, St. Paul Re has relocated some of its employees to a branch office in Morristown, NJ.
Besides longer-term plans, such as office space, Cole has spent most of his days since the Sept. 11 disaster setting up the Morristown operation. One challenge he had was simply locating computer hardware for the makeshift office. "As you can imagine, demand for hardware in the tri-state area was very intense," Cole says. "We had to scramble a bit for resources but we were able to obtain everything we needed. Our key business partners and our corporate parent," located in St. Paul, "were a big help on the PC front," Cole adds.
However, simply locating the equipment was only half of the battle. "Our biggest issue was waiting on the equipment to arrive over land, since all airplanes were grounded for several days after the attack," Cole says.
Luckily, Cole was actually able to visit his offices at 195 Broadway to collect some material considered vital to getting the Morristown operation up and running. "Thanks to a friend with a badge I was able to get in and get some key items to make our restoration process easier," Cole says. "Without that badge, we would never have gotten past all of the intense security."
Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology. View Full Bio