By Derek Auckland, Florida Operations Manager
June signals the start of Hurricane Season in South Florida and the initiation of our multi-faceted preparation program, which begins with our own employees.
Although preparation and recovery for our customers is a top priority, we know that if our own team members are NOT prepared at home, they can’t be ready to help our customers. Therefore, one of the most important aspects of our continuity plan is to first make sure our staff has their own family and property safe and secured.
In the case of an impending hurricane, we allow managers on the emergency team enough time off to secure their homes and prepare for their family’s wellbeing. We also provision food, water, and fuel at our branch offices for use by our team.
For our staff, we follow guidelines outlined by the American Red Cross and others, such as:
- Identify a safe place for your family.
- Establish a personal support team of people you may assist and who may assist you.
- Prepare for extended time without power by stocking up on:
- Flashlights and lanterns with plenty of extra batteries.
- Battery-operated chargers and radio to keep abreast of news and emergency warnings
- Non-perishable foods
- Extra water for drinking and bathing
- Supply of medicines
- First aid kit
- Personal records, such as insurance coverage and financial records, in a safe and easily accessible place
- Prepare a “Go-Kit” just in case.
- Protect your home by cleaning out gutters, drains and downspouts, trimming lose tree limbs and removing or securing lose items, such as porch furniture and flowerpots.
- Always avoid flooded areas and keep emergency numbers handy.
Find the full Hurricane Preparedness Checklist at: redcross.org/prepare.
In Florida, a tax holiday, from May 28 through June 10, allows residents to stock up – tax free — on essential hurricane readiness items, including batteries, portable radios, tarps, coolers, generators, even pet supplies.
For a complete list of eligible items, visit https://floridarevenue.com/taxes/tips/Documents/TIP_22A01-03.pdf
Once our employees are safe, secure and prepared, we then turn our full attention to our customers.
It is not uncommon for us to have emergency assignments at customer facilities that require our assistance for 24 hours and longer. Sunshine plays an integral role in the preparation, damage control and clean-up phases of many threatening events, including hurricanes. We self perform these disaster services, so our customers know exactly who is in charge.
Leading up to predicted weather related incidents, our staff will coordinate with our customers to provide services that prepare each facility for the storm and to help control damage. Once the storm has passed, we provide emergency cleaning services to return all customer locations back to a normal operational state as quickly as possible. Our years of experience in disaster preparedness and recovery gives us the knowledge to have in place a solid plan and a well-trained emergency team.
At each of our hurricane-prone locations, we have management teams able to quickly assemble personnel and equipment, have it staged on-site, and prepare for clean-up operations. A rapid response reduces down time and damage caused by standing water. Sunshine has on hand the necessary equipment, including large portable, and truck mounted extracting equipment, drying fans, generators, trucks, and other heavy equipment to assist recovery. We have deployed this service numerous times and understand the urgency required.
Prior to a hurricane touching down, Sunshine procures equipment, supplies, communications, and other emergency related resources for the affected region. An emergency team is activated to support accounts and stand by our commitment to our customers.
At the beginning of hurricane season, equipment and supplies are assessed and checked so that they are in top working order. A requisition order is completed, and items are repaired or purchased as needed ahead of the season. Debit cards are issued to local managers for emergency supplies and refresher training occurs.
We stay in close contact with customers during emergency events. We communicate our approach with as much forewarning as possible. Our plans dictate who, what, where, when, and how. We institute a calling tree plan and a contingency plan if communications are shut down and utilize satellite phones.
In short, we do whatever is required to support our own team and prepare our response team to support our customers.