We always say that people are the heart of our company, driving our passion, our performance, and our commitment to our clients. Never has this been more true than during Hurricane Harvey in Houston. Our team members in Houston truly went above and beyond the call of duty under the most dire of circumstances.
Knowing the severe rain and flooding that Harvey would bring there were a number of proactive operational preparations that took place on the properties we service. First, we reached out to every property manager to discuss what preparation the property would need before the storm hit, when and if the property would close, and when our employees would be released. All properties were assessed on-site from the top-down; roofs were inspected and all drainage was cleared from drainpipes, walkways, parking garages and sewer grates. Our teams installed as much waterproof sealant as they had access to around trash corridors, electrical risers, boiler rooms and other system critical areas. A small cache of fuel was also secured to ensure that RTVs, generators and other gas-powered remediation tools could be operated during and after the hurricane.
Second, we made provisions for our people to ensure that those who needed time off to evacuate or take care of their families were able to do so. A number of our staff were caught on-site at key properties in the Houston area. For those team members and others who needed refuge, we were fortunate to be able to secure hotel rooms on or next to serviced properties to ensure they would have safe shelter, hot showers, meals and water.
As the full force of Harvey began to hit Houston, we started a communication tree that included all onsite team members, regional managers, executive staff, our company president and property managers. We felt it was important to communicate with serviced properties at least every 2 hours during the storm to assess their needs.
12 employees who were staying at or near properties then proceeded to work tirelessly for 6-7 days (and nights) straight though the storm. Working in long shifts, this dedicated staff cleared all drainage 4 times per day. The did daily walk-throughs of offices and accessible interior spaces to note and take pictures of water leaks, flooding and other damage that were sent to the property managers for insurance and other documentation needs, as well as for remediation planning. One exterior night crew, while stranded in a local hotel that was serving as a community shelter during the storm, even pitched in to help change sheets and make up beds when there was a need. We are deeply grateful that our people in Houston weathered the storm safely, and even more so for all the efforts that helped our clients and community members stay safe as well.
Our Houston crews are now hard at work helping properties dig out from inches (and, in some cases, feet) of mud, muck, fish and other debris strewn across landscaping, parking garages and building interiors. Some businesses have been lucky to quickly re-open, for others it will be months before they are able to fully recover the property from all the water and flood damage.
Today, we all wait with baited breath as Hurricane Irma prepares to make landfall in Florida. We are communicating closely with our Florida properties and staff, many of whom have already been evacuated.
While we prepare properties for the worst, we hope for the safety and best possible outcome for our people, friends, business partners and Southeastern communities.