I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for spring! I don’t want to see any more snow, sleet, ice, or freezing rain. Our days are busy enough without the added headaches foul weather events cause and especially for the folks in Operations. We spend hours strategizing on how best to deal with inclement weather as there are many “unknowns” before a storm hits, so planning for them (as much as we can) is important to both the response and recovery of buildings and services.
On February 10th and 11th , staff from Maintenance Operations, Child Nutrition, Facility Planning, Purchasing and Transportation rallied together to prepare for the storm and set plans in place for the post-storm recovery. Tasks we normally don’t think of, such as having salt on hand in anticipation of icy sidewalks or transferring food to deep freezers so it would last through power outages, were taken care of. Communications were established with the National Weather Service and the County Emergency Management Office so information could be relayed to schools and departments in a timely manner. Schools that serve as shelter sites were also put on notice that there was a possibility of shelter activation, which brought about another set of tasks.
On Wednesday night, February 12th, we still had 22 schools without power. Additionally, it became evident that we would need to open some schools as shelters. Shelter operation began Wednesday evening. Transportation was on standby to back up Wave Transit to transport people to shelters if needed and Purchasing was ready to open up the warehouse to provide whatever supplies were needed.
Despite a lack of power for many at home, employees in these Operations departments made it to work on Thursday, February 13th, to start assessing the damage from the storm and to make preparations for the recovery. NASA would have been proud of our tactical measures! Teams from Maintenance Operations and Facility Planning visited each site and reported in on the status of power, water, HVAC, roof leaks, fallen trees or wires and communications. At the same time, Transportation employees were out checking bus routes to make sure the roads and school parking lots could be safely navigated. Principals, custodians and Child Nutrition staff reported for duty at the shelters, prepared to provide refuge for 20 or 200. By the end of the day on Thursday, all services had been restored to the schools.
The fact that we were able to recover services with only a two-hour delay on Friday was a small miracle due in large part to the hard work and dedication of NHCS employees in Operations. For most, things went back to normal on Friday, but Operations continued their post-storm activities with the closing of the one remaining shelter and picking up a lot of storm debris!