Storm-Struck N.J. Distributor Triggers Fears of Booze Shortage

New Jersey residents hit hard by superstorm Sandy are more than just crying in their beer.

For now, that might be all they can cry in after a 10-foot tidal surge walloped the state's major distributor, destroying "tens of millions" of dollars worth of wine, vodka and champagne that's led some to fear a booze shortage.

Fedway Associates, the exclusive New Jersey distributor of Cristal champagne, Grey Goose vodka and other brands, was decimated by the storm when the Hackensack River flooded its warehouse in Kearny, N.J.

Pictures posted to the company's Facebook page look like something out of a movie about Prohibition-era raids, with thousands of broken bottles and alcohol spilling out all over the floor.

"The first floor of our office building and the main floor of our warehouses were wiped out. Our computers, servers, telecommunications equipment were all compromised as was our delivery fleet and warehouse," Fedway President Neil Barnett said on Facebook.

Barnett said 450 employees and volunteers were working 24 hours a day in three shifts to clean up the warehouse. The company has rented a new 190,000 square-foot space nearby and will soon replace its damaged fleet with 100 new trucks.

While New Jersey retailers are not allowed to sell alcohol purchased from out of state distributors, Gov. Chris Christie said he would consider bending the law if liquor store owners asked him to.

"If in fact that company came and asked me to consider that, I would consider it," he said Thursday at a news conference. "But to the best of my knowledge they have not come and asked for any waiver or relaxation of that regulation."

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