Newsletter - October 2017
As you probably know, we had a very unwelcome visitor by the name of Irma blow through our town last month. Though she lost a lot of her punch by the time she got to Clearwater, she was still pretty tough. Our county (Pinellas) was the worst hit for power outages in the state of Florida!
However, we were very fortunate to be one of the first to get power back on at our office Tuesday morning, two days after the storm. As I write this - nearly a week later - there are still thousands of homes and businesses without power in Clearwater, and I pray for their relief after this terrible storm.
Starting in August, I make the National Hurricane Center (NOAA) the first page that I open on my browser in the morning, and watch… every day. I do this for the next 61 days, when I feel I can relax a bit on October 1st. I’ve done this for years.
I have to say that there seems to be something about the Tampa Bay area that deflects these storms (or the worst parts, at least) from us year after year - but of course, you can’t plan on that. In 2004, Charlie was barreling up the west coast of Florida, predicted to hit Clearwater dead on. At the last minute, it turned east and hit Punta Gorda (about 140 miles south of us) and for the most part, left us alone. (We did lose power for over a week though, so you can imagine my fears with Irma!)
I started watching the spaghetti models in addition to NOAA and was feeling pretty confident that we wouldn’t be more than grazed by this storm - until about Tuesday, September 5th. My IT manager showed me the U.S. hurricane tracking model as well as the European model - the European model showed Irma tracking closer to Clearwater. Then he told me that the accuracy of the European model tends to be much higher than the U.S. model.
It's changed so many times, I thought - let's wait and see. Each day looked a little worse until Thursday, when the model showed a direct hit. It was time to break out the business continuity plan and get to work.
The first thing we did was secure new office space in the event that our building was damaged from a possible Category 3 or 4 hurricane. I located a 6,500 SF office space in a 5-story building nearby which was built like a rock. First target done!
Back at the office, I knew that we had very pressing deadlines for many of our clients' orders. We couldn’t just shut down and pick back up whenever, so I asked my staff to stay as late as they could and we kept production going until 6 p.m. We got nearly everything completed that was due that day, minus a handful of stragglers. Right at 6:00, we shut down our network and loaded up more than 50 workstations, dual monitors, battery back-ups, phones and all of our servers onto a truck.
I had expected a handful of employees to stay and help with this, but it turned out that almost every one of them stayed to pitch in! It was really amazing and showed me (again) just how great my staff is and how much they care. We moved our equipment to a secure storage space and when I arrived I discovered that about a dozen of them followed me to help unload as well! (You know who you are - and I want to thank you again!) We completed the move in less than 3 hours! When we were done, everyone scattered to go home and take care of their houses, family, pets, and outdoor furniture and, of course, to board up.
Saturday was spent securing the house; I was planning to hunker down at home and let the storm pass. Sunday morning was spent filling water bottles, buying a generator and boarding up the last few windows. We had planned to stay at home through the storm, but at the last minute we decided to move to a hotel room nearby. Later that night, Irma hit Naples, about 172 miles south of us. So unfortunate for them, but I knew that a much-weakened storm would pass through the Tampa Bay area.
Irma blew through as a Category 1 hurricane and I began to experience a bit of relief. The next morning, I received a text from my VP of Production. She had driven to the office and reported that the building was completely sound - no damage at all! (No power, but that was to be expected.)
As soon as the weather was clear enough to drive, I met up with about six members of my staff and we began loading all of our equipment back onto the truck to bring it all back to the office.
The next step came Tuesday morning. All staff that did not evacuate arrived by 9 a.m. and we all pulled together to reconnect all of our electronics. Again, they were amazing! I asked my IT manager if we’d be operational by end of day and he answered that no - we’d be live by noon. And we were!
We picked up right where we left off and processed thousands of orders despite being closed for nearly a day and a half. Our business continuity plan worked - and worked even better than I had expected. We are thankful that things turned out the way that they did, and of course we tried to do our very best, during this difficult time, for our clients.
I want to thank all of our clients for your patience, understanding and prayers. I also want to thank our vendors - many who went completely out of their way to help us meet order deadlines and also wished us well.
We are all on the same team and I don’t see weak links, especially after going through Irma. We ask you to continue to trust Blue Streak Docs for all of your document retrieval and title search needs. We will do whatever it takes to get you what you need - when you need it - no matter what.
Our staff was also involved in relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey Victims
Here is a message from the volunteer (Samantha) that is in charge of supplies -
There's an organization called National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters. Here's their website for more information: https://www.nvoad.org/ This is THE Organization that coordinates all the Volunteer groups who help in Disaster situations.
Employee Of The Month
“Richard Greenberg is one of the newest additions to Blue Streak Docs, LLC. He started working here as a Typist and was quickly noticed for his perpetual positivity. Richie is someone who never stops smiling and he always seems to brighten up the atmosphere. Although this young man is known for his great attitude, there is more to it than just that. From the start Richie has gone above and beyond to exceed his required expectations. He’s been learning more and more about this company every day and shows great strength while doing so. Richie is a young, free spirit with an outstanding work ethic and we are very lucky to have him as part of the Blue Streak Docs Family.”