Not all restoration companies handle hurricanes like we do
Hurricane Michael, Panama Beach, 2018
Challenging work has always been the hallmark of our business. Removing water damage from every floor of a four-story business while also working so mission critical offices could stay open … been there, done that. Repairing damage caused by two direct hits from hurricanes in 2004 to South Florida with no power and no utilities, yep been there too. But in October of 2018 all of our previous experiences seemed miniscule to the level of devastation and challenge we encountered in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael’s slow walk through the Florida Panhandle.
After Michael finally cleared out, we rallied our service teams to begin immediate remediation efforts to help our clients dig out and clean up. This is what we do, we had a plan, we had the resources, we had our mission. What is the saying, “the best laid plans of mice and men,” that now seems appropriate.
Our crews slowly inched their way across I-10 towards our destination with traffic almost at a standstill. Upon our arrival we realized something was terribly different about this event. It felt more like we were entering a war zone than the thriving vacation destination Panama Beach was just 48 hours prior. The amount of damage was indescribable. I don’t remember much being said in the crew trucks; most of us just sat silently. Part of you wants to say this is impossible, part of you wants to say we can get started after the roads clear, part of you wants to say it’s a total loss. But that is not the part we listened to.
The number of service technicians we brought with us was grossly insufficient, there was no power, no water, nowhere to sleep, nowhere to eat. A war zone. This was going to be way more challenging than we planned for, but we were there and determined to figure it out.
Our operations center sprang to action first – we needed more manpower and fast. Within hours they surmised the best strategy was to use social media to see if skilled construction resources were available to work. The plan worked, within 24 hours we had the muscle we needed. Now where to sleep? Our team rose to the challenge again, securing homes throughout the community which we used as essentially barracks for the crews. Our home office rallied support personnel to make the 8-hour drive to deliver food, water and fuel for the generators on a rolling schedule. We divided our teams up into crew chiefs and our newest members from the community. We got to work.
We spent over 8 weeks in Panama Beach, our crew chiefs rotated in on 2-week schedules. Twelve hours days, 7 days a week. In the end, our staff worked hand and hand with over 30 crew members recruited from the local community. We helped over 70 clients recover from the devastation of Michael. Our home office helped our clients file their claims and restart their business one by one. In the big scheme of things, the impact we made was not huge, but we believe the impact we made to each of our clients was enormous.
Being there when our clients need us is our work, being there with our clients is our privilege. The families and people we met in Panama City impacted us in such immeasurable ways. The community is strong, it will rebuild. I am very proud of every one of my crew for the dedication they delivered. I am proud of the men and women that joined us from the community, and I am proud to have been a part of this community coming together to help each other in the worst circumstances. Thank you, Panama City, for allowing us into your community. Thank you even more for allowing us to experience what resilience and determination can accomplish.
2018 Micheal – Panama City
2017 Irma – Islamorada – Upper Keys
2017 Irma – Vero Beach
2016 Matthew – St. Augustine
2008 Ike – Galveston – Houston
2005 Wilma – Key West
2004 Frances & Jeanne – Vero Beach (Direct hits 3 weeks apart)