LOLITA, TX — After 25 years in manufacturing, last year’s Hurricane Harvey was not Inteplast Group’s first natural disaster. But thanks to effective procedures, all 2,000 employees were aware of site evacuation, company-provided transportation availability, and post-storm shift arrival times. From beginning to end, here’s how the plastics manufacturer — from plant floor to human resources — navigated the effects that the Category 4 storm would have on its staff.
Secure Equipment 72 Hours Before the Storm
Peter Zamarripa, general plant manager said, “Once we have a storm warning in effect, we start thinking about what needs to be done. It’s second nature for us now.”
- Have plastic tarps, tape, and rope on hand to cover the equipment.
- Cover windows.
- Have flashlights and batteries.
- Have diesel for generators.
- Secure all loose equipment and materials that are outside on site.
- Back up all digital files.
- Make sure silos are full.
- Have enough relevant product resources on hand in case there is a shortage or delivery issues post-hurricane.
Assessment of Structural Damage
Inteplast management returned to the site to assess Harvey’s impact as soon as storm conditions subsided, said Senior Director of Texas Administration Dan Martino. “It is critical that needs are identified as early as possible so that a recovery plan can be created, and the resources needed can be retained.”
- Identify power issues so that emergency generators are put in place and the company can rent others as needed. Then determine what is needed to get power back online.
- Building structure is paramount because it protects the equipment.
- Once repair is completed, employees can re-enter to begin clean-up and start-up activities.
- Prioritize issues. Waiting too long jeopardizes the timeline for normalcy.
Communication is a Must
“Information management remains as integral to the process as anything else. Martino confirmed. “But during the recovery period, communicating via phone, email, or texting is near absent. Our radio system allowed for effective on-site communication during the recovery process.”
- Update contact lists
- Communicate any sales- or marketing- specific updates.
- Use a digital communication tool. Inteplast’s ITV system provides plant-specific information on monitors in its plants’ breakrooms and lobbies.
- Utilize an emergency update hotline with prerecorded information for staff.
- Telephone numbers for expedited health insurance-related needs were distributed.
Martino, whose home was undamaged, helped to coordinate recovery efforts for employees and the community in need. Staff members who were not negatively impacted by Harvey helped others through volunteer efforts. In addition, Human Resources set up an online portal for company-wide donation funds. Plants outside of Lolita also shipped pallets of canned goods, clothing, toiletries, and school supplies.
- An online portal for funds should be established, if possible, and determine what, if any, the company will match. Inteplast matched employee donations dollar for dollar.
- Keep staff abreast of donation totals throughout drive.
- Create a physical location on site for storing and distribution of clothing and food. This should be where family members can access the donations when employees may be working.
- Allow donation recipients their privacy. Do not post names or items/amounts received.