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Lessons from Hurricane Michael
4 Minute Read
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Kevin Forestell
October 22, 2018

What We Can Learn from Hurricane Michael

Hurricane Michael hit Florida less than two weeks ago and already the storm has left a destructive path of broken homes and damaged properties.

The combined damages from hurricanes Irma and Harvey were estimated at just under $200 billion. The rebuilding has already begun and that comes with a dramatic increase in the demand for labour, materials and equipment. Hurricane Michael has left the industry scrambling. However, there are lessons to be learned on how we can better prepare for natural disasters of the future including snow storms, wildfires, floods and hurricanes.

An areal view of the destruction in Mexico Beach, Florida, after Hurricane Michael. Photo by Johnny Milano. Image borrowed from Audubon

Labor Shortages After Hurricane Michael

In addition to the logistical and technical challenges of rebuilding after a natural disaster, these tasks are made significantly more difficult with a lack of workers to do the job. So how do we solve this problem? We start with cross-training existing staff to better prepare them to cover a variety of positions when a disaster strikes. Having an all hands on deck attitude of readiness for when a natural disaster hits is crucial. Part of this involves making an exhaustive list of all staff or on-call staff, a communication method in the case of a power outage and enabling remote work when employees can physically make it in to work.

Supply Wait Times Increased

Repairing and rebuilding after a natural disaster cannot be done if materials are not available. This extends beyond physical materials for projects like roofing to heavy equipment needs for larger projects. When a natural disaster occurs the first place we try to source equipment is our local rental house. The problem is that the equipment needed is on a much larger scale and shorter timeframe than most projects. This can be solved in two ways. First, sourcing equipment outside of the geographical location of the disaster. Second, getting contractors to lend out their idle equipment. A final important consideration when is comes to equipment needs during a natural disaster is planning an emergency supply ahead of time and securing a yard as a ‘safe zone’ for where equipment and tools will be stored if a disaster hits.

Embracing Technology To Assist in Hurricane Michael Aftermath

Everyday technology is being integrated into the construction industry for various types of projects. From augmented reality as a training tool, to drones that can survey damage before sending crews in. Repetitive and dangerous jobs within the construction industry has been a huge focus when it comes to technology. Creating safer and quicker completion of projects can help the company win more bids and not have to worry about project deadlines or the safety of crews. Lastly, we live in a world where we can store data remotely and work from anywhere, on almost any device. Take advantage of this and backup your data! There are many great technological discoveries making the job site safer and easier – it’s time to embrace technology to work smarter and safer.

Make Your Plan

Natural disasters leave very little time for planning, estimating and starting a job. When an urgent need arises contractors are looking to search for equipment, view pricing and book equipment as quickly as possible. A few extra steps that can be taken include registering with FEMA and ensuring copies of insurance, licenses and business information are available.

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Kevin Forestell headshot
Kevin Forestell
Kevin Forestell is CEO of DOZR and one of the co-founders. Kevin first got started as an entrepreneur when he founded Forestell Landscaping right after graduating from University. His love and passion for the industry and desire to help solve an equipment problem that contractors faced every day is what brought the founding team to start DOZR. Kevin is proud of the level of efficiency brought to the industry through DOZR and hopes that DOZR will help change the standard way equipment is rented.
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