Bill Schaphorst MaintenX Hurricane Facility Maintenance quote from article

People and businesses across the United States are bracing for what could be the most active hurricane season on record. Forecasts predict that the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season alone is predicted to have five major hurricanes — those of Category 3 or greater, with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour. Compare this to 2023, when there were only three major hurricanes in the United States.

The potential for storm damage to homes and businesses is greater in 2024’s especially active hurricane season. “While the development of technology for communications and storm recovery continues to accelerate, disaster preparedness will be more crucial this season than in any other,” says Bill Schaphorst, MaintenX’s vice president of business development.

Tampa-headquartered facility management company MaintenX has been ramping up its mission to help restaurants and retailers prepare for and recover from hurricanes. The ultimate goal is to return clients to business as quickly as possible after a natural disaster. Achieving this outcome requires a solid plan in place ahead of time, one that allows for maximum flexibility in the face of unexpected challenges.

“A hurricane will knock down power lines. Utilities will be damaged. Water will not be safe to drink. It brings everything back to basics,” Schaphorst says. “And you’ve got to fix it right away.”

Checklist for Getting Through Storms with Minimal Damage

To help clients deal with a possibly devastating hurricane, MaintenX has been assisting clients in developing disaster plans. These plans include guidelines for tracking storms, handling emergency equipment and keeping personnel safe during a disaster. Schaphorst outlines the following critical steps:

Ensure Structural Compliance

  • Check structures and walls for stability.
  • Inspect roofs for leaks, missing/loose components and ensure gutters are clean and secure.
  • MaintenX inspectors can evaluate facilities and consult on building codes.

Gather Essential Materials

  • Plan ahead for access to plywood, sandbags, chainsaws, tools, food and water.
  • If you must remain at or near your business, pack fresh water for drinking and sanitation (one gallon per person per day), several days’ worth of non-perishable food items, a flashlight, a first-aid kit and a charger for mobile devices. Don’t forget to pack extra batteries.
  • Generators are among the best tools for storm recovery. This year, MaintenX has doubled its fleet of mobile generators to 160 units.

Secure Interiors

  • Check for items such as exposed wires that could start a fire.
  • Bolt tall bookcases and display cases to wall studs.
  • Seal windows and doors. Secure doorways. Hurricane shutters are also popular options to keep out debris.
  • Consider using sandbags to protect buildings from flooding.

Prepare Exteriors

  • Bring inside furniture, trash cans, ashtrays and anything else that could become wind-borne during a storm.
  • Confirm that parking lots, gutters and storm drains are clean to avoid flooding.
  • Inspect roofs to ensure that there are no unsecured sections or damage that could be worsened by a storm.

Ensure Staff Safety

  • Establish evacuation routes.
  • Plan for the needs of employees after the hurricane—shelter, food, water and transportation.
  • File insurance claims as soon as possible.

MaintenX also helps clients assemble actionable emergency plans to reduce the risk of major damage to buildings and destruction of food stocks and merchandise. The company provides facility inspections before and after a hurricane, as well as post-hurricane cleanup.

Helping Clients Help Their Community

Roberto Pajon, MaintenX

Hurricane recovery is both challenging and rewarding work. Some of the processes for maintaining facilities during storms is similar to the work of Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel, says Roberto Pajon, a MaintenX project manager.

Pajon recounts driving in power outages and storm conditions to refill diesel tanks for facilities. While MaintenX is incorporating the newest and best technology to streamline post-storm maintenance, storms can disrupt even the best planning and preparation. “It’s important to have systems and strategies in place that can function when power, internet connection and fuel are scarce,” he says.

Disney Herrera,

MaintenX’s work not only protects property but also aids community recovery. Their employees tell stories of resilience, ingenuity and numerous shows of gratitude from members of the community for restoring power and getting stores up and running.

“Our work goes beyond customer service; it’s about supporting the community. Helping clients helps everyone — making our efforts truly rewarding,” says Disney Herrera, regional service manager.

— By Andrew Asch and Sarah Daniels. MaintenX is a content partner of Retail & Restaurant Facility Business. For more articles from and news about MaintenX, click here.

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