That’s what friends are for

Sandy washes ashore in Union Beach N.J.

When measuring the impact of wars and natural disasters, it’s convenient and comfortable for us to use numbers.

Numbers don’t bleed.

Numbers don’t suffer.

Numbers don’t cry.

Hurricanes deserve names like Gloria, Katrina and Sandy, but the victims of those violent storms often remain anonymous and abstract. That way, we can keep them at a distance and our lives don’t have to be touched by their misery.

It also gives us a sense of safety. As long as adversity does not come too close, we can go on with our lives and run our business as usual. Today, that’s not going to happen because I’d like you to meet a remarkable woman who’s lost most of what she’s worked for in a superstorm.

Patrice Devincentis is a part-time lecturer in music appreciation and production at Bergen Community College, she teaches piano and she plays keyboards in the classic rock cover band Black Night. She also owns and operates Sonic Surgery, an audio production studio in Union Beach, N.J. Here she records, edits, mixes and masters, working with musicians and voice-over talent.

HURRICANE HELL

As we approached Union Beach on the way to her house, it was as if we had entered a war zone. The National Guard was everywhere. Ambulances and other emergency vehicles were rushing on and off. Hundreds of cars were waiting in line at the few gas stations that still had fuel.

Flood-damaged furniture piling up in front of Patriuce Devincentis' house.Closer to the ocean, some structures were barely standing. The roads were covered in sand and dirt. Mountains of garbage and debris were piling up. It was a stinking mess.

Life hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for Patrice. A few years ago, she lost her husband to a dreadful disease and after his passing, cancer nearly took her own life. During her illness, her employer let her go and it became increasingly hard to stay afloat financially and emotionally, all the while raising her preteen daughter. Her home and her garage-studio became an anchor in uncertain times.

MIRACLES AND MISERY

Cutting back on all expenses -including flood insurance- Patrice pulled off a miracle: she worked incredibly hard and gradually built her life and her health back up. Last July she could even burn her mortgage. But the joy over what she had accomplished didn’t last long.

Three months later, Hurricane Sandy pounded the Jersey shore and Patrice’s house and studio were flooded with salty Atlantic sea water. In a matter of minutes, thousands of dollars worth of musical instruments, hard- and software and pro audio equipment were drowned and rendered useless.

When I opened the studio door a few days later, the rotting smell of growing mold was already noticeable. The insulation between the walls had soaked up and retained the water. The top of the Yamaha Grand was missing, and the sound booth was filled with flood refuse. Slimy mud covered the floor. 

A broken cinema display had fallen on the mixing table, and muddied Kurzweil, Korg and Roland keyboards were scattered over the studio. Monitors, microphones, equalizers, de-noisers, compressors, digital recorders, preamps… you name it: everything under the water line was ruined, including a top-of-the line PA system.

On October 30th, Patrice wrote on her Facebook page:

“Sonic Surgery and my music career have died a very watery death.”

Well, a few of her friends decided not to let that happen. Nine of them joined forces and came to Union Beach, armed with a generator, face masks, gloves, plastic bags and demolition tools. The goal was to get the house and studio dry before the mold would make it a health hazard. It took us a day to rip out the wet floors, to open up the walls and to completely empty the studio.

Had you not known any better, you would have thought that Sonic Surgery was holding a yard sale that day. Unfortunately, all the electronics, the instruments, the gear and the furniture were worthless and not covered by insurance. 

FEMA STEPS IN 

On the day the president was touring the Jersey shore, a man from FEMA stopped by to assess the damage. He looked at the studio and came back with a number. A very low number.

“You can’t be serious,” said Patrice. “I would never be able to refurnish and equip my studio for that amount. How did you even arrive at that number?”

“It’s simple,” said the man. “This is a garage. I can see it was modified, but it still is a garage.”

LOOKING AHEAD 

So, what’s next for Patrice and Sonic Surgery? For the time being, she can use the studio at Bergen Community College to record, but that’s not a permanent solution. She can still serve her clients, but only to a certain extent. At some point, she plans to return home and rebuild her studio from the ground up. It’s not going to be easy and she can’t do it on her own. 

That’s why we -her friends- come to you for help. Let’s see what we can do to get Sonic Surgery up and running again!

second to the left: Patrice Devincentis

Perhaps you have equipment lying around that’s just collecting dust. Perhaps you bought too much acoustic foam and you want to get rid of it. Do you have a mic stand that you haven’t used in ages? What about that microphone you just replaced?

Maybe you have a contact in the recording industry who might be able to help. Maybe you know a pro-audio provider that would be willing to donate gear to a good cause. 

If that’s the case, please get in touch with me. Spread the word. Help a deserving colleague in need. 

this is a screenshot

click on the picture to get to the donation page

You can also help in other ways. We have set up a GoFundMe page for Patrice where you can make a monetary donation.

As I said in the beginning, in the aftermath of a natural disaster it is easy to be reduced to a number. 

I don’t ever want that to happen to Patrice Devincentis.  

Your help is much, much appreciated! 

Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

PS You can reach me through my Contact Page.

UPDATE 

Donations and offers of help have started to come in from many corners and countries! Here’s Patrice’s response:

“WOW WOW WOW… THIS is like a dream come true. I am astonished at the generosity of strangers. This is outrageous and unbelievable. I am awed and incredibly humbled at the generosity. How do you say Thank you under these conditions??? “

PATRICE’S WISH LIST

Many of you have asked me: What does Patrice need? Well, she was running a professional recording studio with all the bells and whistles. Patrice is also a professional musician and her PA system was destroyed as well. She lost most of her keyboards, including a Yamaha Grand. For her studio, this is what she came up with:

  • Control surface (ProTools, Ableton, etc)
  • MIDI controller (keyboard)
  • High grade powered near field monitors
  • Amp for the surviving Urei’s
  • Mic Cables
  • Patch bays
  • Wire Trusses
  • Editing Desk and/or Racks.
  • Monitors for computer (Mac compatible)
  • Movable walls (Gobos)
  • Headphone distribution Amp

  • Pro Tools HD Native or LE 10/Plug ins
  • Reason 6.5
  • Ableton Suite 9 with add-on’s
  • Logic Pro 9 with libraries
  • Some sort of mastering software or 2 track editor
  • Final cut express
  • Creative Suite (photoshop etc) 5+
  • Microsoft word Suite 2010+ for Mac

About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a multilingual voice-over professional, coach and writer. His blog has been voted one of the most influential voice-over blogs in the industry. He's an expert contributor to Internet Voice Coach, the Edge Studio, the International Freelancers Academy and recordinghacks.com.

by Paul Strikwerda in Articles, Studio

20 Responses to That’s what friends are for

  1. lynn

    Yes Paul, Perhaps with advertising this, we can help in some small way to get things back for her. I am sure she is going to recover as people are kind at heart and it’s when things like this happen, that people all pull together for sure :) Lynn

  2. Paul Strikwerda

    @Lynn: Thanks for adding that bit of information and for spreading the word. The response has been tremendous but so was Patrice’s loss. As you know, it is expensive to build a soundproof recording studio. Apart from that, the rest of the house was damaged too and cannot be lived in at the moment.

  3. Paul Strikwerda

    @Paul: It is my pleasure to be able to do something for Patrice. It will take a while for those affected in New Jersey and New York to fully recover, but it will be done!

  4. Paul Strikwerda

    @Jeanne Ann: Thank you so much for your donation. Every penny makes a difference, and those who give, also give much needed moral support.

  5. lynn

    Patrice is a member of “The Hillcrest Band” She has been working as our keyboard player. She also works with Black Night Band. “The Hillcrest Band” as a band will be donating to her, in hopes of spreading the word and trying to get new gear for her. I will post this on my personal facebook page which has many musicians who may step in and help too :) Thank you for helping her! Lynn

  6. Paul Garner

    Thanks for giving us this chance to help, Paul! Hope everything turns out even better for Patrice than before.

  7. Jeanne Ann McManus

    Spent a lot of time in Union Beach in my childhood at my grandmother’s home. So I feel especially sad for Patrice and her daughter. I will be making a donation now. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to help.

  8. Paul Strikwerda

    Thank you so much for your donation, Rosemary. I am so encouraged when I see how fast her story is spreading and how much people are contributing. We’re not defined by a disaster. We’re defined by how we respond to it!

  9. Rosemary Conte

    My heart breaks for the loss Patrice and her daughter have experienced. She will rebuild…even better! I\’m on her team.

  10. Rick Lance

    I know I can help, Paul. I’ll send you an email message.

  11. Paul Strikwerda

    @Christopher: Thank you so much, Christopher. I’m working on a list of what Patrice minimally needs to get up and running again. Stay in touch!

  12. Paul Strikwerda

    @Michelle: You’re wonderful, Michelle. We live in a caring nation and I am so grateful for all the support Patrice has already received. That will give her a much needed boost!

  13. Paul Strikwerda

    @Steven: Please go ahead and repost this story, Steve. Thank you so much for that. Storms are a strange way to stimulate the building sector of our economy, but this is a different type of recovery.

  14. J. Christopher Dunn

    It’s all so surreal. I had to read the post twice for it to sink in. So sad. I’m looking around my studio to determine if I have equipment that’s just sitting. In the mean time, my heartfelt positive thoughts go out to Patrice and a donation is the way.

  15. Michelle

    That’s the beauty of friendship and the miracles that come out of disaster. She’s a lucky woman (probably deserving!)and you are an amazing friend. Love these stories :-) Hitting the donation link next!

  16. Steven Lowell

    Would you mind if I reposted this?

    I live in Staten Island. I cannot believe how widespread this destruction has been.

  17. Paul Strikwerda

    @Matt: The area Patrice lives in hasn’t been flooded in over 20 years, so she thought -like so many others- that she was safe. People just don’t want to imagine the worst, and think: That will never happen to me. Until it does.

    This morning, we started a fund-raising campaign for Patrice on Go Fund Me. Click on this link to help. Thank you so much, Matt!

  18. Paul Strikwerda

    @Ted: Donations are coming in. We’re now raising funds online for Patrice. Before we can install new gear, the studio needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. It might take a while but we will get there!

  19. mattforrest

    I feel so bad for her – I wish I had some spare gear or something to offer, but I’m pretty lean here. I’m shocked she didn’t have insurance for all that equipment. I’d be happy to give a few bucks to help. I wonder if the guys at Recording Hacks have any spare gear or contacts?

  20. Ted Mcaleer

    My heart goes out to your friend, and all those affected by the Hurricane(s) past and present. Please do a follow up and let us know how she’s doing
    Ted Mcaleer

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